Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cucumber and Almond Salad with Arugula

This is a very flavourful salad that's perfect for the summer. The original recipe calls for Kirby cucumbers, but I had a 1kg English cucumber that needed to be put to good use. The original also calls for a garnish of chopped shiso leaves, but I decided to toss the salad with some baby arugula instead. I also followed the optional addition of grape tomatoes for my portion.

Cucumber and Almond Salad with Arugula(adapted from Cook This Now)

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
225g cucumbers, skinned and chopped
2 1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp lime juice
a few handfuls baby arugula
cherry or grape tomatoes
sea salt to taste

1. In small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, and lime juice.
2. Toss dressing with cucumbers, almonds, arugula, and tomatoes.
3. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

Braised Pork Ribs with Green Tomato, Orange, and Thyme

This recipe was a nice change of pace from the usual ribs covered in barbecue sauce. If you don't have green tomatoes, you can increase the citrus. This recipe lets the flavour of the pork shine. I marinated the ribs overnight and then cooked them in the slow-cooker on low for 8 hours. The original instructions are included below.

Braised Pork Ribs with Green Tomato, Orange, and Thyme (from Cook This Now)

8 country-style pork ribs (1.8kg or baby back)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
juice and zest of 1 orange
2 large green tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
6 lemon or regular thyme sprigs
2 rosemary sprigs

1. Smear ribs with 1 tbsp olive oil, garlic, orange zest, salt, and pepper.
2. Place tomatoes, orange juice, vermouth, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper in baking dish. Toss well.
3. Place ribs in tomato mixture and top with herbs. Cover with foil and marinate in refrigerator up to overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 300F.
5. Bake, covered, turning halfway through until tender, 3 hours.

Garlic and Thyme-Roasted Chicken Parts with Mustard Chicken

What could be better than roasted chicken? Roasted chicken on top of bread that has turned crispy and been flavoured with chicken juices. This recipe is ready to go in the oven with just a few minutes of prep.

Garlic and Thyme-Roasted Chicken Parts with Mustard Chicken (from Cook This Now)

stale bread, sliced 1/2" thick
mustard as needed (I used Dijon)
olive oil as needed
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I used chicken thighs and avoided cutting)
1 head garlic, separated into cloves
1 bay leaf, torn into pieces
1/2 bunch thyme sprigs

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Lay bread slices in bottom of a roasting pan in one layer. Brush with mustard, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place on bread. Scatter garlic cloves, bay leaf, and thyme over chicken. Drizzle with olive oil.
3. Roast chicken until lightly browned and thigh juices run clear, about 50 minutes.

Shrimp with Capers, Lemon, and Feta

This is a perfect weeknight meal. You can make it in under 10 minutes easily, but there is nothing rushed about the flavour. The creamy feta sauce is what sets this dish apart. I think it would be perfect served with some fettuccine or other pasta.

Shrimp with Capers, Lemon, and Feta (from Cook This Now)

2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
450g large shrimp, shelled and cleaned
1/3 cup crumbled feta
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 - 2 tbsp capers
salt and pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or basil

1. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute.
2. Stir in shrimp, feta, lemon juice, capers, and salt and pepper.
3. Cook, stirring, until shrimp is just opaque and sauce thickens, 2 minutes.
4. Add cilantro or basil and stir to combine.

Quick Braised Chicken with Moroccan Spices, Lemons, and Olives

This dish takes a bit of time to cook (about an hour total), but requires very little effort for a richly flavoured dish.

Quick Braised Chicken with Moroccan Spices, Lemons, and Olives (from Cook This Now)

1 lemon, ends trimmed (or a preserved lemon)
1 tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1.4 kg chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
3 - 4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (1.5 cups)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
2 - 3 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp crumbled saffron
1/2 cup green olives, pitted if desired
3 tbsp dried currants or diced dried apricots (optional; I omitted)
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or mint

1. Thinly slice lemon crosswise into rounds. Cut rounds into quarters.
2. (If using preserved lemons, skip this step.) Place lemon in small saucepan with water and still in 1 tbsp kosher salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Drain and rinse.
3. Season chicken with 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt and pepper. In large, deep skillet, heat 3 tbsp oil over medium high heat. Brown chicken on both sides, 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate.
4. If skillet looks dry, add 1 tbsp oil. Add onion and saute until soft, 5 minutes.
5. Stir in garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne and cook for 1 minute.
6. Add chicken and coat with spice mixture. Pour in stock until 2/3 of chicken is covered.
7. Stir in saffron and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 25 minutes.
8. Uncover and add lemon slices, olives, and dried fruit. Cover and return to simmer until chicken is cooked, 10 minutes.
9. Transfer chicken to serving platter.
10. Raise heat to high and boil sauce uncovered until thickened, 10 minutes.
11. Stir in cilantro or mint and spoon over chicken to serve.

Tuscan Kale with Anchovies, Garlic, and Pecorino

This is a simple side with plenty of flavour.

Tuscan Kale with Anchovies, Garlic, and Pecorino (from Cook This Now)

2 bunches Tuscan kale
2 tbsp olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
2 - 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese

1. Remove center ribs from kale and discard. Tear leaves into bite-size pieces. Rinse but don't dry.
2. In large skillet over medium heat, warm oil. Stir in anchovies and cook until dissolved, 1 minute.
3. Stir in garlic and cook until softened, 1 minute.
4. Add kale a handful at a time until wilted slightly. Cook until completely wilted, 5 minutes.
5. Season with pepper and toss with cheese.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chile-Coconut Braised Beef

I noticed this recipe a couple of weeks ago when we were in a warm spell. I mentally filed it away for a cold, rainy weekend when I needed a pick-me-up. Unhappily, such a weekend occurred, but happily I did have this dish to cheer me up. This is a satisfying, flavourful dish. I soaked up the very last bit of sauce with bread and may have briefly considered licking the bowl. The original recipes calls for boneless short ribs, but I couldn't find any relied on regular beef stewing meat instead. I reduced the cooking time slightly as well. I also had a bag of spinach that needed to be used up, so I added that to the dish. It gave the dish an extra bit of colour and saved me the trouble of cooking up a side. The recipe below is my modification with slightly reduced meat to make sure there's enough sauce for the spinach addition.

Chile-Coconut Braised Beef (slightly adapted from Cook This Now)

750g boneless beef short ribs or stewing meat, cut into 2" chunks
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapenos, minced
2" ginger, grated
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 can coconut milk
juice and zest of 2 limes
250g spinach, roughly chopped
chopped cilantro and scallions for serving

1. Preheat oven to 300F.
2. Season beef with salt, chili powder, and pepper.
3. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat and brown beef. You may need to do this in batches.
4. Add garlic, jalapenos, ginger, shallot, and cumin seeds, stirring until fragrant and golden, 2 minutes.
5. Stir in coconut milk, lime zest and juice, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to simmer.
6. Cover and transfer pot to oven. Cook until beef is very tender, 2 - 2.5 hours.
7. Remove pot from oven and heat over low heat, add spinach in handfuls and stir in until spinach is wilted into the dish.
8. Serve garnished with cilantro and scallions with something to soak up the sauce.

Chorizo-Stuffed Jalapenos or Peppers

The filling in this is excellent (and any leftovers go great with eggs in breakfast tacos the next morning!). These needs to be served still warm as the flavour isn't nearly as good once they've cooled. I think the filling would work well in more mild chiles or peppers such as poblano or bell peppers as well if you're not into such a spicy bite.

Chorizo-Stuffed Jalapenos or Peppers (from The Homesick Texan Cookbook)

12 medium jalapeno chiles (see header notes)
110g chorizo, cooked and drained of excess fat
225g cream cheese, room temperature
55g goat cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp dried oregano (I used Mexican)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp lime zest

1. Preheat broiler and line baking sheet with foil.
2. Cut each jalapeno in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and white pith.
3. Mix together chorizo, cheeses, cilantro, oregano, cumin, garlic, cayenne, and zest.
4. Fill jalapeno halves with cheese filling.
5. Place on sheet and broil 8 - 10 minutes or until nicely browned.

Queso Cookies

The name of these little snacks bothers me because they're not sweet at all, but they are deliciously cheesy with just a little bit of spice. They taste like queso dip without the headache of making a sauce and keeping it warm at a party.

Queso Cookies (from The Homesick Texan Cookbook)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups grated sharp white cheddar (225g)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 jalapeno chile, finely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp ground cumin

1. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. Mix butter and cheese together.
3. Add flour, jalapeno, salt, cayenne, and cumin. Stir until it forms a ball (like a pie dough).
4. Take a pinch of dough, shape into a marble, place on sheet, and press with a fork. Repeat.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, cool, and serve.

Chorizo Empanadas

I've been wanting to make empanadas for a while now, but unfortunately my cast put a bit of a kink in my empanada making plans. Fortunately, the upgrade to a splint has made empanada making a possibility. Even better, this dish was worth the wait and the effort. With a bit of patience and generous flour-dusting, the dough rolls out very nicely. If you have a variety of mixing bowl sizes, check yours to see if one will work as an empanada cutter.

Chorizo Empanadas (from The Homesick Texan Cookbook)

225g cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vegetable oil
450g Mexican chorizo (removed from casing if bought)
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (~55g)
1/4 cup pitted black olives, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk
sesame seeds (optional)
salsa for dipping (optional)

1. Mix together cream cheese and butter until smooth.
2. Stir in flour and salt until a smooth dough is formed.
3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in large skillet on medium-low heat and cook chorizo until done, 7 - 10 minutes.
5. In bowl, mix together chorizo, MJ cheese, olives, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and cumin.
6. Preheat oven to 375F and grease a large baking sheet.
7. Roll dough out on a floured surface until 1/8" thick (I found this easier to do in batches). Cut into 5" rounds, gather scraps, and repeat until you have about 16 empanadas.
8. Place 2 tsp of filling in center of each dough circle and fold dough so it forms a half-moon. Crimp edges with a fork to seal.
9. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk.
10. Brush egg wash on empanadas. If using (I didn't), sprinkle with sesame seeds.
11. Bake for 25 minutes or until browned. Serve with salsa if desired.

Salsa Fuego

This is a smooth, smokey salsa. It's not overly spicy, so it makes a great dipping sauce for tortillas when you have guests with a wide variety of heat tolerances. Because the tomatoes are charred prior to be used in the salsa, don't be afraid to use those generally disappointing winter tomatoes.

Salsa Fuego (from The Homesick Texan Cookbook)

2 dried pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
450g plum tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1/4 medium yellow onion
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo
1/2 cup cilantro

1. Heat dry skillet over high heat, toast pasilla chiles 10 seconds on each side, cover with water, bring to a boil, turn off heat, and let soak for 30 minutes. Discard water and rinse chiles.
2. Meanwhile, cut tomatoes in half and place seed-side-up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and place under broiler for 20 minutes or until black.
3. Turn tomatoes over and add garlic and onion and broil for 5 more minutes.
4. In a blender, combine tomatoes, garlic, onion, pasilla chiles, chipotle chile, cilantro, and 1 cup water. Blend until smooth.

Mexican Red Chorizo

I finally broke down and bought The Homesick Texan Cookbook. My only regret is that I didn't jump on it sooner (apparently I did at least order just in time because it is now only available through other sellers on Canadian Amazon). Other than the time spent rehydrating the chiles (30 minutes), this is remarkably quick and easy to make. Next time, I plan on making a larger batch and freezing it portioned out. In addition to saving me the trouble of searching for Mexican chorizo, making it yourself saves you the trouble of removing the sausage from its casing.

Mexican Red Chorizo (from The Homesick Texan)

2 dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
450g ground pork (20% fat)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika (I used hickory smoked)
1/2 tsp dried oregano (I used Mexican)
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
2 tsp kosher salt

1. Heat dry skillet over high heat and toast guajillo and ancho chiles on each side for 10 seconds. Fill with water to cover chiles, bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and soak for 30 minutes. Discard water and rinse chiles.
2. In a blender, combine chiles, vinegar, onion, and garlic. Puree until smooth.
3. Add paste to pork along with remaining spices.
4. If possible, let flavours meld before using in other recipes. If just cooking chorizo, fry in a lightly greased skillet.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Seared Salmon with Brown Butter Cucumbers

I don't cook nearly enough seafood, but recipes like this remind me that I should. It's quick and easy and the brown butter cucumbers that it to the next level.

Seared Salmon with Brown Butter Cucumbers (from Cook This Now)

2 thick salmon fillets
kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 Kirby cucumbers, peeled and diced into 1/4" cubes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped basil or mint
lime wedges for serving

1. Season salmon with salt and pepper.
2. In large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Cook until foam subsides and butter turns deep gold in colour, 2 minutes.
3. Add salmon to pan, skin-side up. Cook without turning for 2 minutes.
4. Add cucumbers and a pinch of salt to pan around salmon. Stir to coat with butter. Cook until underside of fish is dark golden, 3 minutes.
5. Flip fish and add garlic to cucumbers. Stir. Cook fish until done, 2 - 4 minutes.
6. Stir basil into cucumbers in pan. Serve, spooning cucumbers and sauce over fish and squeezing a bit of lime on the fish.

Southeast Asian Tomato Salad

This salad is a great way to mix up the usual tomato and basil summer salad.

Southeast Asian Tomato Salad (from Cook This Now)

2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp light brown sugar
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/4" thick
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 tbsp chopped Thai or regular basil
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1. In small bowl, whisk together fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, scallions, garlic, and jalapeno.
2. Arrange tomato and cucumber slices on a plate. Spoon dressing over tomatoes and let stand 10 minutes.
3. Sprinkle with basil and cilantro and serve.

Thai-Style Ground Pork with Chiles and Basil

The original recipe calls for ground turkey or dark ground chicken, but I opted for more flavourful pork. I also doubled the spice level to end up with a very quick dish perfect for a weeknight. Serve with rice or lettuce wraps.

Thai-Style Ground Pork with Chiles and Basil (from Cook This Now)

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 finely grated lime zest
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 scallion, white and light green finely chopped, greens reserved for garnish
225g ground pork
1/4 chopped Thai or regular basil

1. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, fish sauce, lime zest, lime juice, and sugar.
2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and chopped scallion. Cook until slightly softened, 1 minute.
3. Add meat and cook until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Stir in soy sauce mixture and cook for a minute or so.
5. Remove from heat, stir in basil, and top with sliced scallion greens.

Mustard Greens Salad with Anchovy Croutons and Gruyere Cheese

Making your own croutons does add a bit of extra time and effort to this salad, but the results are well worth it. This is a very flavourful salad with lots of assertive ingredients. I fear I may be becoming an anchovy fan.

Mustard Greens Salad with Anchovy Croutons and Gruyere Cheese (from Cook This Now)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/8 tsp plus 1 pinch kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper
140g crusty bread, cut into 3/4" cubes (3 cups)
110g Gruyere cheese, grated (1 cup) and divided
140g mustard greens, preferably baby (6 cups)
4 tsp lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Mash garlic with a pinch of salt. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in oil, anchovies, 1/8 tsp salt, and pepper.
3. Spread bread cubes on large baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbsp anchovy mixture and toss well.
4. Scatter half of cheese over bread. Bake, tossing occasionally, until golden and crisp, 20 minutes.
5. Remove center ribs from mustard greens if needed and slice into 1/2" strips. Transfer to large bowl.
6. Whisk lemon juice into anchovy oil and pour on greens. Toss to combine.
7. Add croutons and remaining cheese to greens and toss.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tender Braised Lamb with Turnips and Mint

I scooped up some lamb that was on sale right after Easter. With turnips wasting away in the fridge thanks to the CSA box, this seemed like the perfect dish. I was a bit concerned that the herbs in this dish would be overwhelming, but the end result was excellent with just a hint of heat from the dried chiles. Make sure you have some naan or something else to soak up the extra sauce.

Tender Braised Lamb with Turnips and Mint (from 660 Curries)

6 tbsp mustard oil or canola oil
450g turnips, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 large red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
5 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 lengthwise slices ginger (2"x1"x1/8"), chopped
500g boneless leg of lamb, fat trimmed and discarded, cut into 1" cubes
4 black cardamom pods
1 tbsp Bin bhuna hua garam masala
2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup firmly packed mint
3 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed
1 large tomato, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add turnips and stir-fry until light brown around edge, 5 - 8 minutes. Transfer to plate.
2. Add 2 tbsp oil to same pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry until honey-brown, 8 - 10 minutes. Transfer to blender.
3. Add 1 cup water to blender and puree into smooth paste.
4. Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in pan over medium heat. Add lamb and cardamom and cook, stirring until browned, 15 minutes.
5. Add onion paste, garam masala, and salt to pan. Cover and braise, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, add mint and chiles to mortar. Pound into pasty blend. Add tomato a few pieces at a time and pound into paste until it's all incorporated.
7. Add mint mixture, turnips, and cilantro to pan. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally until turnips and lamb are tender, 15 - 20 minutes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Miso-Sesame Sear-Roasted Pork Tenderloin

This is a perfect weeknight dinner. Quick, easy, and full of flavour.

Miso-Sesame Sear-Roasted Pork Tenderloin (from All About Roasting)

1 tbsp dark or red miso
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp honey
1 pork tenderloin
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp neutral-tasting oil

1. In a small bowl, stir together miso, vinegar, ginger, sesame oil, and honey.
2. Season pork with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add pork and sear until brown on one side, 2 minutes. Turn and brown on all sides. Transfer to a foil lined baking sheet.
4. Smear miso paste on pork.
5. Roast in oven until pork reaches 140 - 145 degrees, 13 - 18 minutes.
6. Sprinkle sesame seeds and cilantro on pork.
7. Let rest on carving board 5 - 8 minutes. Carve into 1/2 - 1" thick slices and serve.

Watercress, Endive, and Blue Cheese Salad

I knew the combination of endive and blue cheese was good, but this makes it even better. A simple, but elegant salad!

Watercress, Endive, and Blue Cheese Salad (from Radically Simple)

2/3 cup walnut halves
3 large heads endive, about 340g
2 small bunches watercress
1/4 cup walnut oil
4 tsp rice vinegar
110g St. Agur or creamy Danish blue cheese

1. Lightly toast walnuts in small skillet until fragrant, 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl and let cool.
2. Trim bottoms of endive, cut in half lengthwise, separate leaves, and place in large bowl.
3. Remove stems from watercress and discard. Wash leaves, dry, and add to bowl.
4. Add oil and vinegar and toss.
5. Add walnuts and crumble in cheese. Toss. Add salt and pepper.

Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomatoes, Cinnamon, and Olives Over Polenta

This simple, aromatic, and rich dish is perfect for a still entirely too cool spring. Don't pass on the anchovies (or anchovy paste). You won't notice the taste in the final sauce, only the depth of flavour.

Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomatoes, Cinnamon, and Olives Over Polenta (from Cook This Now)

900g pork shoulder, cut into 2" chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts, sliced
5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 (798mL) can plum tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine
5 anchovies
2" cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
2 rosemary sprigs
2/3 cup pitted and roughly chopped green olives
cooked polenta

1. Preheat oven to 300F.
2. Season pork shoulder with salt and pepper. In Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm olive oil and sear pork, turning until well browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to plate.
3. Add leeks and garlic to Dutch oven and brown, stirring, 3 - 5 minutes.
4. Return pork to Dutch oven and add tomatoes, wine, anchovies, cinnamon, bay leaves, and rosemary. Cover and place in oven. Cook 1.5 - 2 hours, turning twice.
5. Raise temperature to 425. Uncover Dutch oven and add olives. Cook uncovered until liquid is reduced and meat very tender, 20 more minutes.
6. Serve over polenta.

Chard with Nuts, Garlic, and Golden Rum Raisins

I decided it might be time to attempt to get over my raisin aversion. What better way to start than with rum-soaked raisins? In the end, this simple side dish is simply wonderful. Nutty with a slight sweetness from the raisins and depth from the rum. The original calls for red chard, but I used swiss.

Chard with Nuts, Garlic, and Golden Rum Raisins (from Cook This Now)

3/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dark rum
4 large bunches red chard
2/3 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds
1/3 cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. In small saucepan, combine raisins, rum, and 2 tbsp water. Simmer over medium-low heat until raisins are plump and most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 minutes.
2. Remove center ribs from chard and discard. Slice leaves 1" thick.
3. In large skillet over medium heat, toast nuts until golden, 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
4. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
5. Add chard a handful at a time (be careful of the splatter!), cooking until wilted, 6 - 8 minutes.
6. Season greens with salt and pepper. Stir in raisins and nut. Toss to combine.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Maghrebi Veal Meatballs with Spinach and Chickpeas

The slow part of this recipe comes from cooking the chickpeas. I've found that cooking a giant batch of chickpeas in my slow cooker and then freezing in 1 cup portions in plastic bags works for me and cuts down on dish prep times. This recipe isn't exactly a weeknight meal, but it's also not an all-day project.

To give the sauce more flavour and because I wasn't cooking chickpeas just for this recipe, I used chicken stock instead of chickpea liquid in the sauce. The original recipe also calls for a separate skillet to brown the chickpeas and wilt the spinach. I followed some suggestions to turn this into a one-pot meal. I thought wilting the spinach ahead of time made it slighty slimy, so I'm going to suggest wilting it directly into the sauce. If you aren't up for experimentation, wilt separately ahead of time. Finally, the spice mixture calls for ground spices. I used whole when I had them available. If you don't have all of the spices listed, you can also substitute 4 1/4 tsp ground coriander and a pinch of ground caraway, but I hope you have the spices!

Maghrebi Veal Meatballs with Spinach and Chickpeas (slightly adapted from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen)

1/2 cup dried chickpeas, cooked (I suppose you could also use 1 can)
olive oil
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
pinch crumbled saffron
2 lbs fresh spinach (I used one bag or around), stems removed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup diced firm-textured white bread, I used stale baguette
1/4 cup soda water
1 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
4 tsp sweet paprika
salt and pepper
340g ground veal
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp olive oil
Spice Mix (see notes)
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground caraway
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp ground fennel or anise
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp ground cloves

1. Grind together spice mix ingredients.
2. Soak bread in water for 10 minutes and squeeze dry.
3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, grind garlic, spice mix, paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 2 tbsp water to a paste.
4. Add veal to paste and pulse until well combined.
5. Add bread, parsley, and egg yolks to veal and pulse to combine.
6. With oiled palms, roll mixture into 20 balls each the size of a walnut. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
7. Set a 5-quart heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Add 3 tbsp olive oil and fry in small batches, turning until golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer using slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.
8. Add more oil if needed to equal 3 tbsp and reduce heat to medium. Add onions and 1/4 cup water and cook until onions are soft but not brown, 5 minutes.
9. Add tomato paste and cook until it sizzles and water has evaporated.
10. Add meatballs, chickpeas, and chicken stock to casserole. Add saffron and cover with a sheet of crumpled foil and a lid. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.
11. (See notes above.) Add spinach handfuls at a time until wilted. Fold in and cook uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.
12. Gently stir in parsley and cook 5 minutes longer. Serve.

Fresh Fig and Raspberry Tart with Honey

I couldn't resist some figs that were on sale. $1.99 for 6 as opposed to $1.49 each! The thing that takes this tart from good to amazing in the almond crust. Do not skip the crust!

Two years ago: Mole Risotto with Avocado Puree

Fresh Fig and Raspberry Tart with Honey (from Ready for Dessert)

1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (40g) sliced blanched almonds
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp (85g) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces and chilled
2 egg yolks
3/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup (65g) raspberry jam
12 ripe figs
1 1/4 cup (170g) raspberries
3 tbsp honey, warmed

1. To make dough, grind flour, almonds, sugar, and salt in food processor until almonds are powdery.
2. Add butter and pulse until size of grains of rice.
3. Add yolks and extract and run until dough comes together.
4. Transfer dough to work surface, knead until smooth, and press into disk.
5. Butter a 9" tart pan with removable bottom. Transfer disk to pan and press out. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 375F.
7. Set tart pan on baking sheet and prick dough 10 times with fork. Line with aluminum foil and fill with weights.
8. Bake 20 minutes until dough is set. Remove foil and weights and bake until golden, 10 more minutes. Let cool.
9. Spread raspberry jam on bottom of tart.
10. Trim fig stems and quarter lengthwise. Arrange in tart in 2 concentric circles.
11. Arrange raspberries in center of tart.
12. Drizzle warm honey over tart.
13. Remove tart from pan and serve.

Parsnip Latkes

What could make latkes better? Using parsnips and frying them in duck fat of course. This recipe is quick and easy (also one-hand friendly, except for quartering the onion!).

Two years ago: Clementine Cake

Parsnip Latkes (from Cook This Now)

450g parsnips, peeled and cut in half crosswise
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
duck fat, chicken fat, or olive oil for frying

1. Using a food processor with a grinding dish, grate parsnips and onion.
2. Transfer mixture to clean dish towel and wring out moisture.
3. Transfer mixture to large bowl and add flour, eggs, salt, baking powder, and pepper and mix.
4. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, heat about 1/4" of fat.
5. Once hot, drop heaping tbsp of batter into hot pan, cooking 3 - 4 at a time. Flatten and shape with a spatula. When edges are brown and crispy, 2 - 3 minutes, flip. Cook until deeply browned, another 2 - 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate. Repeat.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Quick-Braised Pork Chops with Spring Greens and Anchovies

If you haven't noticed the theme yet, the Cookbook of the Month is Melissa Clark's Cook This Now. I find the recipes can be a bit hit or miss, but they're all so quick and easy that even the misses are forgiven. The sauce on this is amazing (don't be afraid of the anchovies!). My pork ended up a bit dry, but my chops were too thin and I wasn't paying enough attention.

Two years ago: Cherry Tomato Penne Al'Arrabiata

Quick-Braised Pork Chops with Spring Greens and Anchovies (from Cook This Now)

2 center-cut bone-in pork chops, about 1 1/2" thick
kosher salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp finely chopped shallot
3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 large bunch arugula, stems trimmed (about 140g) or pea shoots for a different take

1. Season chops with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add pork chops and sear until dark golden, 2 - 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.
3. Reduce heat to medium. Melt butter in pan.
4. Add shallot and anchovies and cook 1 minute.
5. Pour stock in pan. Toss in greens, coating with pan sauce.
6. Nestle pork chops on top of greens. Cover and braise over low heat until just cooked through, 15 minutes.

Butter Lettuce and Clementine Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Who knew brown butter could be used in a salad? It works perfectly with the nutty almonds and is offset beautifully with the bright clementines. I'm not too sure how much the fresh mint added to this but I went ahead and left it in so you could make your own judgement call.

Two years ago: Gorgonzola Drop Biscuits

Butter Lettuce and Clementine Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette (from Cook This Now)

3 tbsp unsalted butter
zest of 1 clementine
1 1/2 tbsp clementine juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
black pepper to taste
1 head butter leaf lettuce, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
2 clementines, peeled, segmented, and cut in half
2 tbsp toasted almonds
2 tbsp chopped mint

1. In small skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter. Cook until nut brown, about 5 minutes.
2. Pour butter into bowl and let cool.
3. Whisk in clementine zest and juice, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
4. In large bowl, combine lettuce, clementine segments, almonds, and mint.
5. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and toss well.

Lamb Merguez Burgers with Harissa Mayonnaise

I've been big on ground meats lately because they're fairly easy to work with one-handed. This is a perfect quick, easy, and flavourful weeknight dinner. Don't pass on the mayonnaise! I served these without a bun, but you can put it in a bun or pita bread with cucumber, tomatoes, and salad greens. I went ahead and fried these up, but grilling and broiling are also good.

Two Years Ago: Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce

Lamb Merguez Burgers with Harissa Mayonnaise (from Cook This Now)

1/2 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp fennel seed
450g ground lamb
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp paprika
pinch cayenne
olive oil, for brushing if grilling
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp harissa

1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast coriander and fennel until fragrant. Grind until fine.
2. In a large bowl, mix together ground spices, lamb, onion, butter, garlic, salt, paprika, and cayenne. Form into 4 patties.
3. In small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and harissa.
4. Grill, broil, or fry burgers to desired doneness. Serve with mayonnaise.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hare and Chocolate Sauce

I am a lucky woman indeed to have a man who will make this dish for me for dinner. The chocolate, pancetta, and vegetables come together beautifully in this sauce. He substituted parsnips for the carrots and I quite liked it.

Two years ago: Lemon Sugar Cookies

Hare and Chocolate Sauce (from Real Chocolate)

1 hare, weighing around 5 lbs, jointed
salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
100g pancetta, cubed
12 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cored and chopped
3 large carrots (or parsnips), chopped
2 ounces dark chocolate or 4.5 tbsp cocoa powder
1 bottle red wine
6 bay leaves
5 whole star anise
1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1. Marinate overnight in wine, bay leaves, star anise, and fennel.
2. Dry hare and dust with flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown each piece in oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
3. Add marinade and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, ~2.5 hours give or take.
4. Meanwhile, dry-fry pancetta until golden. Add shallots, garlic, fennel, carrots, and olive oil and saute until carrots are tender.
5. Add vegetable mixture to hare along with chocolate and simmer 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.

White Chocolate and Raspberry Tartlets

I've been craving the combination of white chocolate and raspberry lately. I'm glad I found this recipe because it definitely satisfied that need. A good quality white chocolate is key to this recipe working. The pastry recipe for this also adds a lot to the dish. It's an excellent shortbread style dough.

Two years ago: Tomato and Olive Penne

White Chocolate and Raspberry Tartlets (from Ottolenghi)

40g raspberries
180g white chocolate, chopped into tiny pieces
20g unsalted butter, cut into 5mm dice
90ml heavy cream
6 tsp raspberry jam
6 pre-baked tartlet cases

1. Crush fresh raspberries with a fork and pass through fine sieve. Set aside.
2. Put white chocolate and butter in heatproof bowl. Heat cream in saucepan and bring to boil. Pour over chocolate and butter and stir with rubber spatula until smooth.
3. Spoon raspberry jam into tartlet cases and pour chocolate ganache in.
4. Spoon raspberry coulis into center of each tart. Swirl.
5. Transfer to fridge and let set for at least 30 minutes.

Pre-Baked Tartlet Cases
110g plain flour
33g icing sugar
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
pinch of salt
60g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 egg yolk
2 tsp cold water
40g melted butter for brushing
flour for dusting

1. Put flour, icing sugar, zest, and salt in bowl and add butter. Mix ingredients until coarse breadcrumb consistency.
2. Add yolk and water and mix until dough comes together.
3. Remove dough and kneed for a few seconds to shape into smooth disk. Wrap in cling film and chill until ready to use.
4. Brush tartlet tins with a layer of butter and set in fridge.
5. Meanwhile, lightly dust work surface with flour. Roll out pastry to 2 - 3 mm thick and cut out 6 circles. Line tins by placing circles inside, pressing into corners and sides. Rest in fridge for 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 300F. Line pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with rice or dry beans. Blind bake for 25 minutes or until golden-brown. Remove from oven.

Roast Potatoes and Jerusalem Artichokes with Lemon and Sage

While I was away, some friends moved back to Australia. Before leaving, they gave away things to people. I missed the giveaway, but the boy went in my place. He told me he had picked up two cookbooks so I was curious what they would be. I was delighted to discover that one of them was a book I've been debating buying for quite a while. I should've bought this book sooner, but I suppose getting it for free makes it worth the wait. The layers of flavour in this dish are excellent. I was low on Jerusalem artichokes, so I substituted parsnips for half of the Jerusalem artichokes. It added a bit of sweetness to an already fantastic dish.

Two years ago: Lentil, Goat Cheese, and Asparagus Salad

Roast Potatoes and Jerusalem Artichokes with Lemon and Sage (from Ottolenghi)

500g small potatoes
500g Jerusalem artichokes
4 garlic cloves, minced
50 ml olive oil
2 tbsp roughly chopped sage
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 lemon
250g cherry tomatoes
170g Kalamata olives, pitted
2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Wash potatoes and place in large saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes until semi-cooked. Drain, cool slightly, and cut in half (or quarters if your potatoes are larger). Place in roasting tray.
3. Wash Jerusalem artichokes and cut into slices 5mm thick. Add to potatoes.
4. Add garlic, olive oil, sage, salt and pepper to potatoes. Mix and put in oven to roast for 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, thinly slice lemon and remove pips.
6. Add lemon slices to vegetables, stir, and return to oven for 20 minutes.
7. Add cherry tomatoes and olives to vegetables, stir, and cook for another 15 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and stir in parsley. Serve.

Hash Brown Quiche

This breakfast dish combines all the best parts of breakfast: potatoes, cheese, egg, and bacon into one satisfying dish. I modified the original recipe a bit by using fresh potatoes instead of frozen hash browns, cheddar instead of the mix originally called for, and bacon instead of ham. I also added a lattice from the leftover mac and cheese pie crust (which you are welcome to skip but did add a little something extra!). I also added a bit of adobo sauce to the egg mixture to kick up the heat a bit since I didn't have Jalapeno Jack cheese. In my head, the combination was perfect. I was thrilled when the reality wasn't too far off from my imagination!

Two years ago: Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Hash Brown Quiche (adapted from Stop and Smell the Rosemary)

1 - 2 potatoes, shredded on cheese grater
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp adobo sauce
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice (Jalapeno Jack, Swiss, cheddar, etc)
1 cup crumbled bacon or diced ham

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Press shredded potatoes into quiche pan. Bake 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in bowl combine eggs, half and half, adobo sauce, and salt.
3. Reduce oven to 350F. Place cheese and bacon in hash brown shell. Pour egg mixture over top. Bake 40 - 50 minutes.

Changde Clay-Bowl Chicken

Having been sick for the past week and sleep-deprived thanks to the cast, meal planning has been fairly low on my list. Thankfully, the freezer is well-stocked with meats and the CSA box continues to deliver fresh vegetables. This meal was born out of weeknight frustration. A combination of what was going bad (bell pepper) and what would defrost quickly (chicken thighs). I would've been okay with an edible dinner, but this was remarkably satisfying. The chicken is richly flavoured and a beautiful red colour. The original recipe calls for a whole chicken on the bone, but boneless works as well. To get more vegetables in, I went ahead and used a whole bell pepper. I also fried the chicken rather than deep-frying to make it a tiny bit more healthy, but the original instructions are included below.

Two years ago: Old Recipes

Changde Clay-Bowl Chicken (from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook)

1 chicken (see notes above; about 1kg)
small handful dried chiles
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1" piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 1/2" cinnamon stick
1 tbsp chili bean paste
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1/4 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
3 scallions, green parts only, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
strips bell pepper
1 - 2 tsp sesame oil
1 cup peanut oil

1. Cut chicken into bite-size chunks. If you wish to have a very hot dish, cut chiles into pieces, otherwise, leave whole.
2. Heat wok over high heat until smoke rises, add peanut oil and heat until reaches 350F. Add chicken and deep-fry until it becomes pale. Remove with slotted spoon.
3. Allow oil to return to 350F. Fry chicken again until cooked through and golden. Set aside.
4. Add garlic cloves to oil and fry until fragrant. Set aside.
5. Pour off oil. Clean wok and return to high heat. Add 3 tbsp oil and swirl around. Add ginger and cinnamon and fry until fragrant.
6. Add dried chiles and stir-fry briefly until just changing colour.
7. Add chicken, garlic, stock, Shaoxing wine, soy sauces, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer over medium for 10 - 15 min stirring from time to time.
8. Add pepper strips and scallions towards the end of cooking. Drizzle with sesame oil before serving.

Spicy Greens Salad (or Side)

To me, cooked vegetables make this more of a side than a salad, but whatever you want to call it, this is a nice quick and easy accompaniment to an Asian meal.

One year ago: Bagel Breakfast Deliciousness ... healthier than the bagel-egg
Two years ago: Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

Spicy Greens Salad/Side (from Seductions of Rice)

450g bok choy, cut into 3" lengths
1 tsp minced ginger
2 to 3 scallions, sliced lengthwise into 1" slivers
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp chile pepper flakes
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp roasted sesame oil

1. In large pot, bring 8 cups of water to boil over high heat. Toss in greens and stir to press down in water. Cook 4 minutes and drain.
2. In large bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Add greens and toss to coat. Serve hot or room temperature.

Cucumber-Sesame Salad

So many cucumbers, so many cucumber salads. This one has a spicy kick to it though. I also upped the amount of red bell pepper garnish to give it more colour and more veggies.

One year ago: Baked Potato with Barbecued Beef
Two years ago: Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita

Cucumber-Sesame Salad (from Seductions of Rice)

450g cucumbers
1 tbsp coarse salt
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp roasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp dried chile pepper flakes
thin strips red bell pepper

1. Wash cucumbers. Trim off ends and cut lengthwise into quarters. Remove seeds. Cut quarters lengthwise into 3 or 4 slices and cut into 2" lengths. Place in colander, sprinkle on salt, and mix. Drain in sink for 20 minutes.
2. Rinse cucumber pieces with cold water, wrap in towel, and squeeze dry. Place in serving dish.
3. In small bowl, blend together ginger, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. Pour over cucumbers and toss to coat.
4. Sprinkle with chile flakes and add bell pepper.

Skillet-Roasted Potatoes and Turnips with Smashed Garlic

The boy made this while I was out of town and was kind enough to share some of the leftovers with me. He paired this with an oxtail dish, but to be honest, I liked the veggies more than the oxtail. It amazes me how much flavour roasted vegetables can have. I would've sworn this had more ingredients, but no, it's deceptively simple.

One year ago: Sesame Chicken
Two years ago: Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Skillet-Roasted Potatoes and Turnips with Smashed Garlic (from Cook This Now)

450g potatoes (Yukon Gold recommended), cut into 3/4" cubes
450g turnips (golden recommended), cut into 3/4" cubes
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
3 unpeeled garlic cloves, smashed
2 bay leaves

1. Preheat oven to 325. In large cast-iron skillet, toss together all ingredients.
2. Transfer skillet to oven and cook, mixing every 20 minutes until vegetables are golden and tender, about 1.5 hours.

Grilled Cumin and Chile Veal Meatballs

This is a quick and easy dish that's perfect for a weeknight meal. If you like spice, I would recommend increasing the red chile flakes slightly. I only had 340g veal, but kept most of the ingredient amounts the same, only decreasing the breadcrumbs slightly.

One year ago: Potato Latkes
Two years ago: Tex-Mex Comfort Food

Grilled Cumin and Chile Veal Meatballs (from Cook This Now)

1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/4 - 1/2 tsp red chile flakes
450g ground veal
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or basil
1 egg
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
olive oil

1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cumin seed until fragrant, 2 min. Add chile flakes and toast 30 seconds longer.
2. In large bowl, combine veal, bread crumbs, herbs, egg, garlic, salt, pepper, and toasted spices. Mix until combined and form into 1" meatballs.
3. If grilling, thread onto metal skewers and brush with olive oil. Grill over high heat until golden and firm, 5 - 7 minutes.
4. If broiling, arrange on baking sheet and broil on high, 5 - 6 minutes.