Sunday, December 29, 2013

Best of 2013

In a busy year full of many exciting events and adventures, we had some pretty good meals at home. So the top 13 picks for this year?

Sri Lankan Crabs with Spinach and Coconut Milk - Moving to San Francisco introduced my to the deliciousness of Dungeness crab. While crab makes almost any meal good, this one was outstanding.

Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa - I think I can officially say I've overcome my mushroom aversion and now seem to seek them out. I blame the mushroom guys at the farmer's markets. They always have too many delicious options available.

Yogurt Tart Chickpeas with Mustard Greens - A great side dish that I liked enough to serve to people the night before our wedding!

Lemongrass Grilled Beef - Some of my favorite meals this year have been when the mister used the grill and did most of the work.

Sweet and Sour Fish Tiles - We had quite a bit of fish overload this year. More than 1 lb a week for two people is a lot of fish! Chinese and fish is a great combination.

Butterflied-Sesame Grilled Beef Short Ribs - Korean barbecue at home? Yes, please.

Baked Herb Polenta - Rich polenta is the perfect comfort food.

Halibut Soft Tacos - I've never understood the obsession with fish taco, but this one could convert me. All of the components get to be a bit much, but it was well worth the effort.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms on Herbed Tomato Salad - This dish is a true celebration of summer produce.

Grilled Tuna with Lemony Tahina, Greens and Pomegranate Seeds - I firmly believe that tahini makes many dishes so much better.

Rhubarb Mint Tea with Moonshine - The only thing that disappointed me about this recipe is that I discovered it after rhubarb season was over!

Duck Burgers with Shiitake Mushroom Ketchup and Chinese Style Mustard Sauce - The duck burgers were outstanding and every component worked perfectly together.

Chicken, Haloumi, and Preserved Lemon Skewers - An incredibly simple dish, but with so much flavor and cheesy goodness.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sole Stuffed with Crab

December is always such a busy month that it's hard to find time to cook, let alone find time to post recipes, so that means my bar is a bit higher than normal when determining what makes it up here. Those delicious pork burgers that pair with homemade sun-dried ketchup? A little too much work for most people to make it up to the blog. An incredibly delicious crab dish that's simple enough to make it on the table in less than 30 minutes? Absolutely. These are easy enough for a weeknight, but nice enough for company. You can also assemble these ahead of time to cut down on the last minute work.

One year ago: Galveston Crab Cake
Two years ago: Quick and Easy Chinese Greens
Three years ago: Goat Cheese and Asparagus Risotto
Four years ago: Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

Sole Stuffed with Crab (from Fish Without a Doubt)

8 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup minced shallots
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk, heated
coarse salt
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
freshly ground white pepper
1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat
6 (5 ounce) Dove sole fillets
dry breadcrumbs

(If not making in advance, preheat oven to 450F.)
1. Set up a bowl of ice with some water and set a smaller bowl on the ice. Set aside.
2. Melt 3 tbsp butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until softened, 2 minutes.
3. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring until roux smells toasty, about 6 minutes. Don't let it brown. (If you're scaling down, this may go quite a bit more quickly!)
4. Take pan off heat and whisk in milk, dissolving the roux. Season with salt and return to heat.
5. Bring sauce to a simmer, stirring, reduce heat to low and simmer until very thick.
6. Stir in mustard, lemon juice, and parsley. Season with pepper, cayenne, and salt.
7. Fold in crab and scrape into iced bowl to cool down quickly.
8. Melt remaining 5 tbsp butter and brush 6 individual gratin dishes with butter. Divide crab among gratins, mounding in center.
9. Cut sole fillets down center and then make a diagonal cut through each half. Drape 4 pieces of fish over stuffing in each gratin, so they cover the crab completely.
10. Brush fish with remaining melted butter. You can now refrigerate for up to a day.
11. Season fish with salt and just a tiny bit of cayenne. Dust lightly with a pinch or two of breadcrumbs for each casserole.
12. Bake until stuffing is bubbling and browning at edges, 10 minutes. Serve.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Kale Greens in Coconut Milk

I've been a bit lazy lately with posting recipes for side dishes just because they're usually less exciting, but this Filipino kale dish was so outstanding that I think it deserves a post. A bit of stewing time with shrimp paste and coconut milk gives and extremely rich depth of flavor.

One year ago: Black Pepper Crab
Two years ago: Bobotie
Three years ago: Peppermint Meringues
Four years ago: Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes

Kale Greens in Coconut Milk (from The Adobo Road Cookbook)

2 tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1" piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 - 2 Thai chili peppers, split in half lengthwise
1 tbsp fermented shrimp paste
1 lb kale, washed, center ribs removed, leaves roughly chopped
1/2 cup shrimp stock or water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (I just used the whole can and cut back on the water)

1. Heat a large wok over high heat. Add onion and stir-fry until pieces wilt and lightly brown, 2 - 3 minutes.
2. Add garlic, ginger, chili peppers, and shrimp paste to pan and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
3. Toss kale in pan and cook and stir until kale cooks down and wilts, 1 - 2 minutes.
4. Pour shrimp stock and coconut milk into pan and reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until kale is tender, 10 - 15 minutes.
5. Serve with steamed white rice.

Curry Pork Pies

For reasons well beyond my comprehension, my man doesn't like the idea of meat pies. It's clearly a flaw and one I don't understand. These, however, are clearly meat muffins ... or else meat cupcakes. I'm really not sure what to call these, but they are good and cute. These require a bit of planning, but come together with about the same level of difficulty as making a pie.

One year ago: Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
Two years ago: Pickled Cabbage
Three years ago: Spicy Red Beef Curry
Four years ago: Egg Drop

Curry Pork Pies (from Smoke & Pickles)

1/2 cup chopped bacon
3/4 lb ground pork
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced carrots
1 1/2 tbsp minced ginger
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp flour
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
10 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup cold vegetable shortening
8 - 10 tbsp ice water
Egg wash
1 large egg
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp whole milk

1. To make filling, heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add bacon and cook for 3 minutes or until lightly crisped.
2. Add ground pork, onions, bell pepper, carrots, ginger, and garlic and saute for 5 minutes or until pork is cooked through.
3. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and pork and cook stirring for 1 minute.
4. Add chicken stock, curry powder, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
5. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with butter and keep chilled in refrigerator until ready to use.
6. To make pie crust, measure flour and salt into a bowl. Add shortening and butter and using a pastry cutter, mix until texture is granular.
7. Add water gradually and work into a wet dough. Dust with flour, divide dough in half (one half can be bigger than the other).
Dust with extra flour, shape into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.
8. Preheat oven to 425F.
9. Remove the larger disk of dough from the fridge. Roll out into a rectangle about 1/8" thick. Cut into 12 5" rounds. Line muffin tin with rounds.
10. Whisk together egg wash ingredients in a small bowl. Brush inside of each crust with egg wash.
11. Spoon 2 tbsp of chilled filling into each piecrust.
12. Roll out second disk of dough to 1/8" thick. Cut into 12 3" rounds.
13. Drape rounds over each pie and use your fingers to crimp edges together. Brush tops with egg wash. Use a paring knife to cut an X in the top.
14. Bake for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Let cool at least 10 minutes before eating.