Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

I had big plans the week to cook some elaborate dinners before the holidays. But then life got in the way with jury duty mixed in with an unexpected loss. Those plans for the elaborate coq au vin on Sunday? Not happening. That night instead turned into bagel and lox (luckily we just returned from Canada with Montreal bagels). I needed to do something for dinner on Monday though and this seemed simple enough.

Over the past two years, we've rarely eaten chicken because as an adult it hasn't been my favourite meat and our meat CSA rarely gave us chicken. But now our CSA is changing their system, so it's harder to add extra meats to our standard box, so I'm starting to find myself picking up chicken again on those weeks when the butcher doesn't have pork cheeks to tempt me. This dish isn't really about the chicken (although we had some excellent chicken oysters and skin last night!), but the sauce is so rich for such a short period of time. The mix of sweet currants and salty olives with rich rosemary flavor is perfect. The original calls for chicken thighs, but I was saving those to give the coq au vin a later shot, so I went with breast with good results.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken (from The Herbal Kitchen)

1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1" chunks
kosher salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut in half and sliced from root to top
1 1/2 tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup dried currants
1/3 cup chopped pitted green olives
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in large skillet over high heat. Add chicken and sear 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a warm platter.
2. Adjust heat to medium-low. Add onion and rosemary to the skillet and cook until limp, 3 minutes.
3. Pour in the chicken broth and stir to deglaze.
4. Stir in lemon zest, currants, olives, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and browned chicken. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
5. Uncover and increase heat to high. Stir in lemon juice and cook until sauce reduces to coat meat with a glaze, 2 - 3 minutes. Serve.

Pork with Onions, Vinegar, and Coconut Milk (Vindaloo)

After getting back from Canada, I was in a cooking malaise. Everything was just kind of okay. Nothing outstanding, nothing bad. This dish was a happy surprise and break from that trend. It's not terribly spicy for a vindaloo, but the tangy vinegar and caramelized red onions add a wonderful depth of flavor. The original below is written for tender pork loin chops. I used pork stew meat and let them simmer in a whole can of coconut milk for 2 hours. I've been cooking a lot with cheeks lately and if you can find them to use here in place of stew meat, I think they'd give a wonderful contrast to the tangy vinegar.

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

Pork with Onions, Vinegar, and Coconut Milk (Vindaloo) (from 600 Curries)

1/4 cup cider vinegar or malt vinegar
1 tbsp coarsely chopped ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 large garlic cloves
2 small red onions: 1 coarsely chopped, 1 finely chopped
2 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed
2 fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, stems removed
1 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp canola oil
1 lb boneless pork loin chops, cut into strips 1" wide and 1/4" thick (or use cubed stew meat and see header notes)
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or 1 can if using a tougher cut)
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Pour vinegar into a blender jar and add ginger, cumin seeds, garlic, coarsely chopped red onion, dried chiles, and fresh chiles. Puree until smooth. Fold in salt and turmeric.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add finely chopped onion and stir-fry until light honey brown, 5 - 10 minutes.
3. Stir in vinegar paste and cook uncovered until vinegar evaporates and paste is slightly dry, 3 - 5 minutes.
4. Add pork strips and cook until meat is seared, 2 minutes.
5. Pour in coconut milk and stir to deglaze.
6. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until sauce thickens and pork is tender, 7 - 10 minutes for pork loin chops or 2 hours for a tougher cut).
7. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Supernatural Brownies

I've posted more than a few brownies over the year and I thought I was happy with my recipe. But this weekend, when the brownie craving hit, I found myself wanting something different - no cheesecake, not cocoa based - and decided to try a recipe I've heard a lot about over the years: Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies. I was expecting to be disappointed. What brownie could live up to the internet hype and name of supernatural brownies? While reading online, I read that the magic happens overnight, so I patiently waited for them to meld. The end result? A rich fudgy brownie that fulfilled all of my brownie-related cravings. The cocoa brownie recipe I have might be easier and the cheesecake raspberry might be more elegant, but this is definitely what I think of when I think of just a pure brownie.

One year ago: Pasta Rustica with Sole, Greek Olives, and White Wine
Two years ago: Saffron Rice
Three years ago: Hot and Sour Rhubarb with Crispy Pork and Noodles
Four years ago: Brisket
Five years ago: Bread Pudding

Supernatural Brownies (from Nick Malgieri courtesy of Saveur)

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into ¼" pieces
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. fine salt
1 cup flour

1. Heat oven to 350F. Line a 9" x 13" baking pan with parchment paper.
2. He recommends using a bain marie to melt the butter and chocolate, but I would save a dish and melt the butter in a pan over very low heat and then melt the chocolate in. Just be careful not to brown the butter or overheat the chocolate.
3. Whisk together eggs in a large bowl.
4. Add sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt to the eggs; whisk to combine.
5. Stir in chocolate mixture; fold in flour.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan; spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 30–35 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Allegedly magic happens after it's left overnight.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Black Olive Roast Chicken

We don't often have chicken, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much the olive-rosemary paste permeated the meat and the flavors of the potatoes and fennel. Although the roasting time is long on this, it's a pretty low effort meal. You could easily roast this with only thighs or breasts depending on your chicken meat preferences. Traunfeld recommends using a 6lb roaster to make stuffing the bird easier, but we used a smaller 3 or 4lb bird which was far more manageable for a group of 4. The extra herbed olive paste was appreciated too!

One year ago: Silver Packet Flounder with Miso Mayo
Two years ago: Garlicky Sesame Cured Broccoli Salad
Three years ago: Penne with a Cashew-Dill Sauce
Four years ago: Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Five years ago: Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Black Olive Roast Chicken (from The Herbal Kitchen)

Herbed Olive Paste
1/2 cup pitted oil-cured black olives
2 tbsp thyme leaves
3 tbsp rosemary leaves
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold (or other potatoes), cut into 2" chunks
2 fennel bulbs, white parts only, sliced 1" thick
1 roasting chicken

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Puree olive paste ingredients in food processor until smooth.
3. Put potatoes and fennel in roasting pan and dot with 1/4 of olive paste. Toss.
4. Using poultry sheers, cut along each side of chicken backbone to remove. Turn chicken over and spread it out flat. Loosen the skin over the breast, thigh, and leg and stuff the remaining olive paste under the skin.
5. Lay the chicken over the vegetables, positioning the legs so they point inwards.
6. Roast chicken for 50 - 70 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken) or until the skin is browned and juices run clear. Let the bird rest 10 - 20 minutes before carving.

Braised Pork Shoulder with Pears and Thyme

I don't think I realized how much I use cardamom and chiles until asked to cook gluten-free meals without those. That rules out Indian and Middle Eastern - two of my go-to cuisines for gluten free. Soy restrictions ruled out anything Asian, so that left me spinning back to basics. Luckily, Jerry Traunfeld's Herbal Kitchen is full of simple, yet outstandingly flavorful dishes. I was worried this one might be too sweet, but it ended up just fine. For serving to my guests, I substituted a Napa non-alcoholic grape juice that does a pretty good job of mimicking white wine, but if not dealing with a brewer's yeast allergy, I recommend just going with wine.

One year ago: Steamed Fish Curry
Two years ago: Chicken Fricassee with Porcini
Three years ago: Chipped Beets and Beet Greens
Four years ago: Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake
Five years ago: Chocolate Layer Cake

Braised Pork Shoulder with Pears and Thyme (from the Herbal Kitchen)

5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 10 rectangular pieces (I used leg and cut a bit smaller)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups white wine
2 cups chicken broth
4 pears, such as Bosc or Barlett, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2" dice
1 small bunch (1 ounce) thyme sprigs
4 bay laurel leaves
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
3 tbsp coarsely chopped thyme
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
Cooked polenta

1. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Sear pork in batches until deep caramel brown. Set aside.
2. Turn heat down to medium-low. Pour most of fat from pan, leaving a thin layer. Add onions and garlic and stir until they wilt down (I let them caramelize a bit).
3. Pour in wine and broth and scrape bottom.
4. Stir in pears and put pork back in pan.
5. Tie thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and vanilla bean together and tuck in between pieces of meat. Cover pot, turn heat to very low, and simmer until meat is tender, about 2 hours.
6. Lift pork from pan, move to a platter, and cover with aluminum foil. Discard bundle of thyme.
7. Add chopped thyme to braising sauce, increase heat, and boil until it thickens enough to coat the spoon.
8. Stir in parsley and lemon juice, season to taste, and return pork to pan. Serve over polenta.

Roasted Black Cod with Bok Choy and Soy Caramel Sauce

Fish always seem to be my go-to dish when I'm time constrained. In this case, we needed a quick meal before heading to the airport. This one creates a complete meal with minimal effort and dirty dishes. You can make the soy caramel sauce while the vegetables are roasting (and use the extra time to pack your bags). The book recommends serving with rice which I omitted but would be a good addition.

One year ago: Fennel and Feta with Pomegranate Seeds and Sumac
Two years ago: Pot Roast Studded with Almonds and Bacon
Three years ago: Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
Four years ago: Blue Cheese and Red Potato Tart
Five years ago: Asparagus, Oka, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Pasta

Roasted Black Cod with Bok Choy and Soy Caramel Sauce (from Good Fish)

5 ounces red cabbage, thinly sliced (2 cups)
2 large bulbs boy choy, halved
2 small tomatoes, halved
4 green onions, white and green parts cut into 3" lengths
4 tsp toasted sesame oil
4 tsp rice wine vinegar
4 slices lime
1 serrano chile, sliced
1 lb black cod fillet, cut into 4 equal portions
Soy Caramel Sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup sake
3 tbsp mirin
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup butter, cut into tablespoons

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a pan with aluminum foil.
2. Make 4 piles on the foil with each pile having 1/2 cup cabbage, a bok choy half, a tomato half sprinkled with a little salt, and a quarter of the green onions.
3. Drizzle each pile with 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tsp rice wine vinegar.
4. Top each pile with a lime slice and sprinkle with chile slices.
5. Roast vegetables in the oven for 20 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, make soy caramel sauce. In a small saucepan add everything but butter and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, 5 - 7 minutes. Turn heat to lowest setting and whisk in butter 1 tbsp at a time.
7. Place one piece of black cod skin side down on each pile and drizzle with 1 tbsp soy caramel sauce. Roast for 8 - 10 more minutes or until fish is cooked.
8. Serve with rice and remaining caramel sauce.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad with Arugula and Hazelnuts

Fall has never been my favourite time of year. I know some people relish the cooling weather and changing leaves, but for me it signals the end of summer, beginning of winter, and end of most of my favourite produce. Of course, San Francisco lacks a real winter and our produce options are better than most year-round, so I'm trying to learn to embrace the change. Produce-wise, fall here means that raspberries, strawberries, and figs are replaced with persimmons and pomegranates. I had never really had persimmons before moving here and pomegranates always seemed exotic, but here the markets overflow with them in early October. The persimmons somewhat remind me of apples, so if you can't find them, I think you could get away with those as a substitute. I was completely surprised by how much I loved this salad. Crunchy, tangy, and just a little bit of sweet. It also reminded me of how much I love hazelnuts.

One year ago: Turkey and Sweet Corn Meatballs with Roasted Pepper Sauce
Two years ago: Aromatic Green Beans with Pounded Garlic and Cardamom
Three years ago: Lamb Stir-Fry
Four years ago: Apple and Cheddar Scones
Five years ago: Mexican Rice

Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad with Arugula and Hazelnuts (from Sunday Suppers at Lucques)

2/3 cup hazelnuts
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp hazelnut oil, divided
1 tbsp finely diced shallot
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
3 tbsp fresh pomegranate juice (if you have pomegranate molasses on hand, you can cheat and use a bit of that watered down)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 small Fuyu persimmons, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, for juicing
1/2 lb arugula

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Spread hazelnuts on baking sheet and toast 8 - 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Let cool, coarsely chop, and toss with 1 tsp hazelnut oil and a pinch of salt.
3. Place diced shallot, pomegranate juice, both vinegars, and 1/2 tsp salt in bowl. Let sit five minutes.
4. Whisk in olive oil and remaining 1 tbsp oil to pomegranate mixture.
5. In a large salad bowl, toss persimmons, sliced shallots, and pomegranate seeds with the dressing. Season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
6. Toss in arugula, scatter hazelnuts on top, and serve.

Sauteed Skate with Parsnip Puree, Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta, and Balsamic Brown Butter

To say I've been absolutely smitten with Goin's recipes since buying her A.O.C. cookbook in February would be an understatement. Despite logging more than 50k miles on airplanes since then, I've managed to squeeze in 70 recipes from her two books. I hesitate to post them even when they leave me swooning (for example, this week: brisket with slow-roasted romano beans and olive aioli) because they're often rather involved, but this one manages to balance nicely between effort and results. The parsnip puree is simple and a beautiful compliment to the brussels sprouts. The brussels sprouts are well worth having as a side dish on their own and mostly simmer away happily on their own. The fish is a simple pan-fry. The end result though is so much more than the sum of all of these individual pieces. Don't skip the brown butter sauce at the end (I confess I almost did!).

For the fish, this recipe calls for skate, but any flat fish should work. I used sand dabs (a local San Francisco treat) and skipped dredging in flour. Flounder would be great here as well.

One year ago: Portobello Mushrooms with Pearl Barley and Preserved Lemons
Two years ago: Pureed Mustard Greens with Clarified Butter
Three years ago: Sweet and Sour Napa Cabbage
Four years ago: Refried Bean Enchiladas
Five years ago: Cheese Enchiladas

Sauteed Skate with Parsnip Puree, Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta, and Balsamic Brown Butter (from Sunday Suppers at Lucques)

3/4 cup Wondra flour (or regular flour)
2 lbs boneless skate or other flat fish
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp balsamic butter
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Parsnip puree (recipe follows)
Balsamic-braised Brussels sprouts

1. Place four on large plate for dredge. Season fish with salt and pepper and coat with flour.
2. Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Swirl in 2 tbsp olive oil. Place fish in pan and cook for 3 minutes until nicely browned. Flip, turn heat down to medium, and cook another minute or so. Keep warm while you make the brown butter sauce.
3. Pour oil from pan and wipe it out. Return to medium heat. Add butter and cook 3 - 4 minutes until brown and nutty.
4. Turn off heat and swirl in vinegar (be careful it may sputter!). Stir parsley into sauce.
5. To serve, spoon hot parnsip puree onto 6 plates. Top with hot Brussels sprouts and arrange fish over top. Spoon any remaining Brussels sprouts over and around the fish. Spoon brown butter sauce on fish and serve.

Parsnip puree
1 1/4 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cut-into chunks
1 1/4 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
8 ounces unsalted butter, cut into chunks
kosher salt

1. Place potatoes and parsnips into two medium pots. Add 1 tbsp of salt to each pot, fill with water, bring to a boil, and simmer until tender (15 - 20 minutes).
2. When potatoes and parsnips are cooked through, strain and let cool slightly.
3. In a small saucepan, heat cream and milk together and then turn off heat.
4. Pass potatoes and parsnips through a potato ricer and transfer to a heavy-bottomed pot. (Alternatively, you could use a potato masher. The ricer will give you a smoother texture.)
5. Stir over medium heat with to dry the mixture out.
6. Slowly add in chunks of butter while stirring. Season with 2 tsp kosher salt.
7. When all the butter is incorporated, slowly stir in warm cream mixture until smooth. Keep warm until the rest of the dish is ready.

Tuna Sashimi Salad with Wasabi Vinaigrette

Think of this dish as a deconstructed sushi roll. It combines all of your favorites - tuna, avocado, soy, and wasabi - without the effort of rolling things up into a roll and making sushi rice. The original calls for seared tuna which you could obviously do still, but we just found it didn't add enough to justify the extra work. The original also doesn't call for avocado, but we had one sitting around and I appreciated the creamy texture in there and tuna sushi always makes me think of avocado.

One year ago: Panfried Sea Bass with Harissa and Rose
Two years ago: Crumbled Cheese with Scallions and Tomatoes
Three years ago: Pork in Green Peanut Sauce
Four years ago: Cauliflower Gratin
Five years ago: Basic Risotto Recipe

Tuna Sashimi Salad with Wasabi Vinaigrette (adapted from Avec Eric)

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp wasabi sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup radish sprouts (or other small greens)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, pitted and chopped
2 tuna steaks (approximately 6 ounces each), sliced into 1/4" pieces
3 tbsp canola oil

1. Whisk lime juice, soy sauce, and wasabi in a bowl to blend.
2. Whisking constantly, drizzle olive oil into lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Gently combine radish sprouts, cilantro, green onion, and avocado in another bowl.
4. Fan tuna slices in a pinwheel pattern on 4 plates.
5. Lightly dress salad with vinaigrette and place a small mound of salad in the center of each plate.
6. Drizzle more vinaigrette on tuna and salad. Serve.

Grilled Baby Lamb Chops with Feta and Zogghiu Mint Sauce

In general, you really can't go wrong with lamb chops, but I was surprised by how much I loved the sauce and feta combination. It's bright and tangy and pairs perfectly with the lamb without taking away from any of the lamb flavors. Best of all? This sauce comes together quickly and the lamb doesn't require any pre-planning, making this a great option for a quick and easy meal that doesn't taste like you were being lazy.

One small note for below. I found that the weight on the herbs seemed a little off relative to the volume measurements. I ended up doing around 20g each of the herbs (which seemed like more than a cup!). For the two of us, we ended up with plenty of extra sauce. I don't know if the discrepancy is due to my scale not handling increases in small amounts of weight well or whether it's an issue with the book's conversion.

One year ago: Parsley and Barley Salad
Two years ago: Pan Grilled Sea Scallop
Three years ago: Pinon Breaded Chicken with Ancho Chile Cranberry Sauce
Four years ago: Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine and Hoisin Sauce
Five years ago: Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Pasta

Grilled Baby Lamb Chops with Feta and Zogghiu Mint Sauce (from the Cheesemonger's Seasons)

1 1/2 cups / 45g loosely packed mint leave
1 1/2 cups / 45g loosely packed parsley leaves
2 small garlic cloves
sea salt and pepper
6 tbsp / 90 ml extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
16 baby lamb chops
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper
4 oz / 115g feta

1. To make sauce, combine mint, parsley, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and a few grindings of pepper in a mortar and crush to form a thick paste. Add olive oil and continue working until creamy. Add lemon juice and stir to mix. (Alternatively, you can take the easy way and do this in the food processor although the author implores you not to. If you do so, as I did, you'll likely want to add a bit of oil to the herbs from the start.)
2. Preheat a grill (or you can pan-fry).
3. Rub the chops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Cook chops over high heat for 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare.
5. Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle with zogghui while still hot, crumble feta over the entire dish, and serve.

Cinnamon and Hazelnut Meringue

For some reason, we seem to make more recipes that use egg yolks than egg whites - creme brulee, pot de creme, and rich mousses. We, however, dutifully save the egg whites in the freezer. Of course, this has the unfortunate side effect of growing out of control with two freezer containers now dedicated to egg whites. We made a deal that we couldn't try a lovely recipe I found for lavender chocolate pot de cremes until the egg white situation got a little more under control. Luckily, Ottolenghi had the solution with meringue recipes. In one swoop, I used up a container of egg whites! And oh yes, even better, these are delicious. The brown sugar gives it a richer flavor than what you would expect in a meringue. This one's a little extra effort than some other meringues, but well worth the extra step for the smoother texture and depth of flavor.

One year ago: Imperial Potatoes
Two years ago: Grilled Chicken with a Cashew-Tomato Sauce
Three years ago: Black Radish Soup in Roasted Acorn Squash
Four years ago: Caramel Apple Blackout Cake
Five years ago: Raspberry-Topped Lemon Muffins

Cinnamon and Hazelnut Meringue (from Ottolenghi)

200g egg whites (about 7)
260g caster sugar (I used regular)
140g dark brown muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
30g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 225F.
2. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a light simmer.
3. Place egg whites and both sugars in a heatproof bowl large enough to sit on top of the pan (my Kitchenaid mixer bowl works just fine for this).
4. Put bowl over simmering water, making sure it doesn't touch the water and leave it there for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is quite hot (~40C) and sugars have dissolved. (I found the temperature hit 40 far sooner than 10 minutes, but it still needed a bit longer to dissolve.)
5. Whip egg whites on high using a freestanding electric mixer for 8 minutes or until mix has cooled completely and is firm and glossy.
6. Sprinkle cinnamon over the meringue and use a rubber spatula to fold in gently.
7. Line a flat baking try with parchment. Plop meringues on top, shaping into medium-size apples with spikes (or you can just make one giant meringue). Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.
8. Place in oven and bake 1 1/4 - 2 hours depending on the size of your meringue (even longer if you opted for giant meringue). Remove from oven and let cool.

Marinated Romano Peppers with Buffalo Mozzarella

Somehow with work travel, I seem to have missed most of the pepper season. Luckily, I managed to catch some beautiful looking peppers still at the farmers' market. Initially I was disappointed that my bag of lovelies wasn't all bell peppers, but then I stumbled across this recipe (and bonus we had leftover arugula and buffalo mozzarella in the fridge!). Thin skinned peppers such as romanos work great in this recipe since they aren't peeled. I think ghost peppers would also work very well here. The recipe calls for letting the peppers marinade for at least 2 hours, but mine probably had less than an hour of time marinating and we had no complaints about flavor.

One year ago: Cubed Pork with Potatoes, Yogurt, and Tamarind
Two years ago: Moroccan Carrots
Three years ago: Basil, Hazelnut, and Chocolate Cupcakes
Four years ago: Lemon and Cranberry Scones
Five years ago: Easy Buttermilk Cake

Marinated Romano Peppers with Buffalo Mozzarella (from Ottolenghi)

6 romano peppers
120 ml olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
2 1/2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp cider vinegar
100g arugula
200g buffalo mozzarella
coarse sea salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spread peppers on a roasting tray, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix and roast for 12 - 15 minutes until tender and beginning to color.
2. Meanwhile, mix together cilantro, parsley, garlic, vinegar, and 80 ml olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Put warm peppers in a bowl, pour marinade over them, cover, and leave at room temperature for at least 2 hours (if you have the time!).
4. To serve, lay peppers and arugula on a serving plate and spoon marinade over them. Dot peppers with chunks of the mozzarella. Drizzle with remaining oil and serve.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Lavender-rubbed Duck Breast with Apricots and Sweet Onions

I was a bit suspicious of this recipe. Would the lavender overwhelm the duck? I don't really want a main course that tastes like potpourri. I don't know why I hesitated because Jerry Traunfield has never steered me wrong. The spice rub on the duck was nothing short of fantastic and the cooking method ensured a crispy skin without being overcooked ... pretty much bliss. I was less in love with the sauce (although I subbed peaches for apricot to avoid using dried), but still, it was wonderful.

One year ago: Spicy Lamb with Yogurt, Cream, and Fenugreek
Two years ago: Roasted Red and Golden Beets
Three years ago: Chana Masala
Four years ago: Linguine with Roasted Tomato and Almond Pesto
Five years ago: Blueberry Boy Bait

Lavender-rubbed Duck Breast with Apricots and Sweet Onions (from The Herbal Kitchen)

4 large boneless duck breasts, skin on
2 tbsp lavender buds, fresh or dried
1 tbsp dried coriander seeds
1 tsp dried fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, thickly sliced
8 fresh apricots (12 ounces), pitted and quartered, or 1 cup (4 ounces) sliced dried apricots
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 to 2 tsp sherry vinegar if needed

1. Trim excess skin from duck breasts. Score skin in diagonal grid pattern, 1" wide.
2. In a spice grinder, blend together rub ingredients. Rub both sides of duck breasts with rub.
3. Swirl olive oil in large skillet over medium-low heat. Place duck breasts skin-side down and cook for 15 minutes until fat is rendered and skin is browned.
4. Flip duck breast and cook 3 - 5 minutes more.
5. Save all but 2 tbsp of duck fat for something else. Stir in onion over medium heat until softens and browns, 3 - 4 minutes.
6. Add apricots, wine, and broth and simmer until it reduces by half and slightly thickens, 5 minutes.
7. Taste sauce and add vinegar and s&p if needed.
8. Put duck breasts skin side down on cutting board and slice 1/2" thick. Place on plates and spoon sauce on top. Serve.

Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise

I've been meaning to make this recipe for ages, so it seems somewhat appropriate that I finally get around to this when the blog is nearing its five year anniversary (how did that happen?). I really should've not waited this long to try this recipe and it really belongs on your holiday table. While I was making the syrup, I thought the anise might be a little overpowering, but once it was in the pie, it worked perfectly to add depth without being overpowering. I had some maple sugar leftover from a mystery guest at our wedding, so I substituted that for an extra maple boost and was not disappointed with the maple flavour in this pie. Finally, she recommends you can use cashews in place of pecans for the pie. I ended up using a three part of pecans, cashews, and pistachios which made for a nice variety of nuttiness. Really though, you likely can't go wrong with this one.

One year ago: Saffron-scented Lamb with an Almond Sauce
Two years ago: Buffalo, Mushroom, and Feta Meatballs
Three years ago: Saag Paneer
Four years ago: Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Five years ago (seriously?): Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise (from Cook This Now)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 to 5 tbsp ice water
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup Demerara or raw sugar (or maple sugar!)
8 whole star anise
2 cups pecan halves
3 large eggs
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp dark aged rum
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1. To make crust, pulse together flour and salt in food processor. Add butter and pulse briefly. Add ice water a little bit at a time and pulse until moist enough to hold together. Form into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll piecrust to 12" circle. Transfer to 9" pie plate. Fold and crimp (keeping in mind the dough will shrink).
3. Prick crust all over with a fork. Freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 400F.
5. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat bring maple, syrup, sugar, and star anise to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until very thick and reduces to about 1 cup, 15 - 20 minutes. If you decide to use a smaller, pot, be very careful it doesn't boil over! Remove from heat and let sit 1 hour.
6. Cover pie with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes.
7. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Cool on a rack.
8. Meanwhile, reduce heat to 325F. Spread pecans on baking sheet and toast 12 minutes. Let cool.
9. Remove star anise from syrup.
10. In medium bowl, whisk together, syrup, eggs, melted butter, rum, and salt. Fold in pecans.
11. Pour filling into crust and transfer to rimmed baking sheet.
12. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until pie is firm, but giggles slightly. Let cool before serving.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Avocado and Citrus Salad with Green Olives

The combination on grapefruit, avocado, and olives seemed like an odd choice, but I had faith and my faith was rewarded with a refreshing side salad. It was a little surprising how well the avocados and olives fit into everything. The full recipe below makes a lot of salad. Goin says you should aim for about 1/2 cup of citrus per person. For us, 1 grapefruit and 1 orange seemed the right amount for two people with about 1/2 of an avocado and other pieces scaled haphazardly. The original also calls for a mix of watercress and frisee, but I needed baby spinach for something else, so I decided to just keep things simple. I think it's fair to say this could work with any tender greens of your choice.

Two years ago: Bulgur Salad with Apricot, Radicchio, and Parsley
Three years ago: Dan Dan Noodles
Four years ago: Bolognese Meat Sauce

Avocado and Citrus Salad with Green Olives (adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques)

4 lbs mixed citrus fruit (grapefruit, oranges, clementines, tangerines, etc.)
2 tbsp finely chopped shallot
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup pitted green olives
1 bunch watercress, cleaned and tough stems removed
1 bunch frisee, cleaned

1. Zest citrus to get 1 tsp of zest.
2. Cut stem and blossom ends from fruit. Peel fruit and slice into segments, discarding seeds. Retain juice if possible. If not, that's okay too.
3. Combine shallots, 1/4 cup citrus juice from slicing (or just increase other acidic components), vinegar, lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp salt in small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes.
4. Whisk in olive oil and zest to shallot mixture.
5. Place citrus segments and olives in a large bowl. Spoon 3/4 of vinaigrette over top and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt. Toss in watercress and frisee [or other greens of your choice].
6. For plating, you can plate on a platter gently adding in the avocado slices in between a salad sandwich or you can just gently fold the avocado into your salad bowl and serve as I did.

Spiced Lamb Chops with a Fenugreek Sauce

One of the best parts about traveling to India was the opportunity to finally try authentic Indian food. It's long been a favourite of mine to cook (maybe you've noticed?), but having never traveled to India, it's always been a question in my mind of how close I was actually getting. I left India with a full and satisfied belly, a greater confidence in what I've been doing, and a craving for more Indian food. Unlike some of my colleagues, I know I can go for at least a month without tiring of the rich blend of spices.

As luck would have it, before I left, our meat CSA had given us 2 lbs of lamb loin chops. With all ingredients on hand, this seemed like the perfect recipe to highlight a welcome back from India. The rub on the lamb is full of rich smoky flavours and the fenugreek-cream sauce is rich and wonderful. This really is nothing like what I ate in India (I was in a mostly vegetarian region and the meat I did have was from long braises), but the flavours still capture the essence. Except for the marinade time, this is also a very quick meal. If you're using lamb loin chops and like your lamb a little less rare, you may want to cook longer.

One year ago: (Wedding hiatus!)
Two years ago: Puy lentils with sour cherries, bacon, and Gorgonzola
Three years ago: Sweet-and-sour red peppers
Four years ago: Tomato Galette

Spiced Lamb Chops with a Fenugreek Sauce (from 660 Curries)

2 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1 tsp black cumin seeds, ground
seeds from 2 black cardamom pods, ground
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp coarse salt
1 lb rack of lamb, cut into chops (loin chops also work well)
2 tbsp mustard oil or canola oil
1 cup half-and half
1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen fenugreek leaves
1/2 tsp Kashmiri garam masala

1. Combine ginger paste, garlic paste, coriander, cumin, black cumin, cardamom, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp salt in small bowl. Coat lamb chops with rub and refrigerate covered for 30 minutes to overnight.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb chops (with rub) to oil and sear each side until browned (2 minutes per side). Transfer to serving platter.
3. Pour half-and-half into skillet and bring to a simmer. Add fenugreek leaves, garam masala, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Simmer, stirring, until sauce thickens 2 - 4 minutes.
4. Pour sauce over chops and serve.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fish Tacos with Cantaloupe Salsa

This week's seafood box brought rock fish. Rock fish usually arrives skinless and while it's a lovely white fish, I sometimes get a little tired of white fish. The CSA newsletter suggested fish tacos which seemed reasonable, but I didn't want to run to the store to pick up more ingredients for a slaw (red cabbage slaw was recommended with the fish), salsa, or guacamole. Luckily, we had a cantaloupe waiting on the counter and some feta hiding in the fridge. The slightly spicy tequila-lime of the fish paired great with the cantaloupe for a quick, refreshing weeknight dinner (or it would've been quick if I hadn't made my own flour tortillas ...).

Two years ago: Nutty-Tart Bell Peppers with Peanuts
Three years ago: Black and Blue Buckle
Four years ago: Chicken Tikka Masala

Fish Tacos with Cantaloupe Salsa (from Good Fish and Smitten Kitchen)

1 lime, vested and juiced
2 tbsp tequila
1/2 tsp salt
2 small jalapenos, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb halibut, skinned
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Feta or cojita to taste
flour or corn tortillas
1 cups diced (1/4 inch) cantaloupe (from a 2 1/4-lb piece)
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) sweet onion (such as Vidalia) or red onion
1 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 (2-inch-long) fresh hot red or green chile, minced
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Combine lime zest, lime juice, tequila, 1/2 tsp salt, sliced jalapenos, sliced red onion, and olive oil in bowl.
2. Place halibut in large bowl and pour marinade over fillet. Set aside for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, chop the fruit for your salsa and mix together.
4. Heat saute pan over high heat and add vegetable oil.
5. Add halibut to pan, reserving marinade with onion slices and cook 3 - 4 minutes per side until cooked through. Transfer to a platter.
6. Add marinade to pan and cook over high heat until liquid evaporates and onions are lightly charred. Pour over fish.
7. Fill tortillas with fish, cantaloupe salsa, and cheese to taste. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sopa Seca de Fideo con Tomatillo y Queso

The Bay Area is a pretty magical place for fresh produce, but even with nearly year-round abundance, late summer is a pretty magical time of year. I had initially passed over this recipe while flipping through this cookbook, but while searching for a way to celebrate the availability of fresh tomatillos at the market, I looked at this one with fresh eyes. Tomatillo salsa, chorizo, pasta, chevre, and avocado! How had I passed over this one? If you want to simplify this recipe into quick and easy territory, I think you could easily replace the homemade tomatillo sauce with 1 cup of quality jarred stuff. Not that it's difficult to make, but it is sometimes hard to find fresh tomatillos depending on your location and it will save 20 minutes (and the first 2 steps), moving this into a quick weeknight meal. The author suggests Hoja Santa for the chevre, but I didn't feel like hunting for it. I also went with a slightly thicker pasta than the recommended capellini.

Two years ago: Chilled Cucumber Soup
Three years ago: Gooey Ginger Chicken
Four years ago: Pearl Couscous with Olives, Roasted Tomatoes and Feta

Sopa Seca de Fideo con Tomatillo y Queso (from Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese)

12 ounces tomatillos, husks removed
1 - 2 serrano chiles, stems removed
1/4 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
5 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
4 ounces Mexican chorizo, crumbled
7 ounces capellini, broken into 1/2" pieces
1 tsp sea salt (less if your stock is on the salty side)
2 1/3 cups chicken stock
1 (5 ounce) round of Hoja Santa or other chevre, chopped and broken apart
1 avocado, seeded, peeled, and diced
crema fresca or sour cream (I omitted because I forgot to buy some!)

1. Place tomatillos, serrano chiles, and onion on a sheet pan and broil for 15 minutes until charred.
2. Place broiled vegetables along with garlic and cilantro in blender. Puree.
3. Place 3 tbsp of oil in large saucepan and heat over medium-high. Add chorizo and cook 3 - 4 minutes until crispy. Use slotted spoon to remove and set aside.
4. Add pasta to saucepan and return to medium-high heat. Cook in chorizo oil until well browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
5. Add remaining 2 tbsp of oil to pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add tomatillo salsa and salt. Allow to reduce for about a minute (only a 1/4 cup reduction).
6. Add pasta and cook until it absorbs the liquid.
7. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook undisturbed fro 15 - 17 minutes or until pasta is soft, but not mush and liquid has mostly been absorbed.
8. Scoop into bowls and garnish with fried chorizo, chevre, avocado, and crema fresca. You can also garnish with more cilantro if desired.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Grilled Arctic Char with Arugula and Cherry Tomato-Anchovy Brown Butter

This dish is a celebration of summer with two types of tomatoes, basil, and peppery arugula. Grilled arctic char is served on top of a tomato and arugula salad and covered with a cherry tomato-anchovy brown butter sauce. Goin's recipes tend to be on the complex side, but this one is relatively simple and comes together fairly quickly.

Two years ago: Cucumber Cooler
Three years ago: Fig, Prosciutto, and Arugula Salad
Four years ago: Egg and Pancetta Stuffed Tomatoes

Grilled Arctic Char with Arugula and Cherry Tomato-Anchovy Brown Butter (from The AOC Cookbook)

1 lemon zested and 4 tsp juice, divided
6 fillets arctic char, skin on
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped thyme leaves, divided
1 1/2 lbs heirloom tomatoes
2 tbsp sliced basil
4 ounces arugula
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp minced anchovy
3/4 pint small cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1. Season char with lemon zest, thyme, and 2 tbsp parsley. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. (Goin recommends this for all of her fish recipes. I rarely marinate for more than 30 minutes and sometimes not even that much. Don't let time stop you from giving this a shot!)
2. Light the grill and while it's warming up, let the fish come to room temperature.
3. Core the heirloom tomatoes and cut them into 1/4" thick slices. Season with salt and pepper and scatter basil on top.
4. Toss arugula in a large bowl with 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
5. Divide half of the sliced tomatoes between 6 dinner plates. Add 2/3 of arugula on top. Place remaining tomatoes on plates and follow with the remaining arugula.
6. Brush char with remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and grill - 3-4 minutes skin-side down and a minute or so flesh side down. Place fish on arugula and tomato salad.
7. Meanwhile, place butter in medium saute pan. Cook over high heat a few minutes until brown and nutty. Add anchovy, cherry tomatoes, 3/4 tsp salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Cook for 30 seconds and add 2 tsp lemon juice. Stir in remaining parsley and spoon over fish and around the salad. Serve.

Long-cooked Cavolo Nero

Kale sometimes gets a bad rap, because it's so trendy, but it's a great green to work with. This preparation is time intensive (although not complicated), but it's worth the effort to infuse the greens with rosemary, garlic, onion, and just a bit of heat.

Two years ago: Japanese Noodle Salad with Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette
Three years ago: Blueberry Rhubarb Deep Dish Pie
Four years ago: Penang-Style Stir-Fried Kuey Teow Noodles

Long-cooked Cavolo Nero (from AOC Cookbook)

4 bunches cavolo nero, cleaned, center ribs removed
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small sprig rosemary
2 chiles de arbol, crumbled
1 cup sliced onion
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
kosher salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Blanch cavolo nero for 2 minutes, drain, let cool, and squeeze out excess water.
2. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and add rosemary and crumbled chiles. Let sizzle for a minute.
3. Turn heat down to medium-low and add sliced onion, 1/2 tsp salt, and a pinch of group pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
4. Stir in sliced garlic. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes, stirring often until onion is soft.
5. Add cavolo nero, remaining 2 tbsp oil, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring often.
6. Remove rosemary and serve.

Catfish with a Chunky Avocado-Tomato Sauce

One of the things I will never grow tired of living in California is the availability of perfect avocados. One of the vendors at the Saturday farmer's market sells bags of small avocados which are the perfect size for snacking on. Occasionally, I realize that I should maybe try to do something with the avocado abundance rather than just eating them. This recipe pairs creamy avocados with Indian spices for a refreshingly different (and spicy!) dinner.

I was using very thin sole for this dish instead of catfish, so I skipped the initial browning step entirely to avoid overcooking the fish and left the fish in filet strips.

Two years ago: Creme Brulee French Toast
Three years ago: Creamy, Lemony Eggs with Prosciutto
Four years ago: Corn and Tomato Gratin

Catfish with a Chunky Avocado-Tomato Sauce (from 660 Curries)

1 tsp ground turmeric
1 lb skinless catfish fillets, cut into 2" pieces
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
1 large ripe Haas avocado, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1" cubes
1/2 cup canned (or fresh) diced tomatoes
12 medium to large curry leaves
4 fresh green chiles, stems removed and cut in half
3 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (1.5"x1"x1/8"), cut into matchsticks
1 tsp coarse salt

1. Sprinkle turmeric over catfish and rub in. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes - overnight.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds, cover, and let pop like popcorn, ~ 30 seconds.
3. Add fish and cook until each side is lightly browned, ~ 15 seconds each. Transfer to a plate.
4. Add avocado, tomatoes, curry leaves, chiles, ginger, salt, and 1/2 cup water to skillet. Heat to a boil.
5. Return fish to skillet and spoon sauce over them. Cover and poach until fish is cooked. (You may need to reduce the heat a bit.)
6. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fish to a serving platter.
7. Simmer sauce uncovered for 1 - 2 minutes until it starts to thicken. Spoon over fish and serve.

Snapper with Creamy Almond-Chipotle Pesto

You may be noticing a theme of quick and easy recipes in these posts. The best thing about having less energy/desire to cook during my time at home in between trips was it pushed me towards quick and easy recipes and reminded me that food doesn't have to be complicated or time-intensive to taste great. This dish is full of flavor with smokey chipotles and tangy cream fraiche, but can be on the table in less than 30 minutes with very little effort.

(Note this recipe is from a relatively new to me cookbook. I managed to pick up an e-book edition for a couple of dollars and the few recipes I've made have made it worth that small investment. If you're looking for something a bit simpler than Rick Bayless, but full of flavor, this may be a good book for you, especially if amazon puts it on sale again.)

Two years ago: Lentil Salad with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Three years ago: Pesto and Proscuitto Stromboli
Four years ago: Pad See Ew

Snapper with Creamy Almond-Chipotle Pesto (from Pati's Mexican Table)

8 red snapper fillets
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan or cotija
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce plus 1 - 2 tbsp adobo sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1. Place fish fillets in container large enough to hold them in a single layer. Sprinkle with lime juice, salt, and pepper. Cover and marinate for 15 minutes - 2 hours in the fridge.
2. To make pesto, combine cream, almonds, cheese, chile, adobo sauce, and salt in a blender and puree.
3. Preheat oven to 375F and butter a large baking dish.
4. Arrange fillets in a single layer in dish. Spread 2 tbsp of pesto on each fillet. Bake 15 - 20 minutes.
5. Garnish with almonds and serve.

Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo

While I was gone, the peak of interesting berry season came and went, so I find myself back in San Francisco at the peak of stone fruit season instead. You can't wander through the markets without admiring the beauty of a wide range of stone fruits - peaches, pluots, apriums, oh my! This pasta salad captures the beauty of the summer season and pairs it with one of my favourite nuts here - pistachios! We paired it with a grilled rib eye for a low-fuss summer meal. If you can't find Humboldt Fog, substitute with another chevre of your choice.

Two years ago: Farro and Roasted Pepper Salad
Three years ago: Chocolate Gravy
Four years ago: Peppers Stuffed with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo (from Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese)

3 yellow peaches
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
10 ounces orzo
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
6 ounces Humboldt Fog, rind removed and coarsely crumbled

1. Preheat grill. Scrub the peaches of extraneous fuzz. Cut peach in half lengthwise and discard pits.
2. Combine honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt in a ziplock bag. Add peaches and marinate 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook orzo in salted boiling water. Drain and set aside.
4. Reserving marinade, cook peaches on grill for 5 - 8 minutes until soft and they have grill marks. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
5. Combine peaches, reserved marinade, orzo, parsley, spearmint, and pistachios in a bowl and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently mix in cheese, trying to maintain the chunks and serve.

Slow-roasted Salmon with Spring Herb Sauce

I've now been at home for more than two weeks straight! Ordinarily, this might not seem exciting, but since it's the first time it's happened since May, this feels nothing short of extraordinary. While I cooked off and on during my brief visits home, it took a while to feel excited by recipes and even longer before the thought of reporting back on recipes didn't seem like a tremendous amount of effort. Luckily, time seems to have healed my cooking malaise.

Slow-roasted and quick and easy may not seem to go together, but even roasted slowly, salmon cooks quickly and this recipe is incredibly simple. (Yes, I'm cheating on quick a bit because the salmon should sit out for 30 minutes or so before baking, but you don't need to do anything while that happens!) The end result though is restaurant-quality: incredibly moist fish with an elegant sauce. For the herbs, please feel free to use a mix of whatever you have on hand.

One year ago: On hiatus to prepare for some important life events!
Two years ago: Edamame, Shrimp, and Snow Pea Pasta Salad
Three years ago: Pork in Adobo Sauce
Four years ago: Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper and Basil

Slow-roasted Salmon with Spring Herb Sauce (from The Herbal Kitchen)

1 1/2 lb fresh salmon fillet
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup mixed coarsely chopped soft-leaved herbs (basil, dill, mint, etc.)
coarse sea salt

1. Cut salmon into 4 wide slices, about 3/4" thick. Lay in shallow baking dish and pour in olive oil, rubbing the fillet to coat the sides. Let sit in oil as it comes to room temperature, 30 - 60 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 225F. Lift fillets from oil and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle with salt and bake 15 - 20 minutes. The color will still be vivid, but the fish should flake slightly when nudged and it will be fully cooked.
3. While the fish is roasting, make the sauce. Boil wine, shallots, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt in small saucepan until reduced by half. Turn to medium-low and whisk in butter 1/3 at a time until incorporated. If you have an immersion blender, blend for 10 seconds to make it even creamier. (If not, that's okay too!)
4. Transfer salmon to plates. Stir chopped herbs into sauce, ladle sauce around the fish, sprinkle fish with coarse salt, and serve.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Gone Travelling

My calendar for the next few months is just a wee bit scary thanks to some work trips, so let's just make it official and say that this blog is on hiatus for the summer. With luck, I'll be back here when things calm down and I have a bit more time reliably at home. In the meantime, I'll do my best to keep track of the recipes I manage to sneak in while I am home.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spinach Lovage Gratin

Spinach sometimes gets a bad rap, but this dish is simple yet rich. He recommends several herb substitutes for the lovage. I opted for dill which brightened the dish with a bit of anise flavor, keeping it from being too heavy.

One year ago: Vietnamese Braised Scallops
Two years ago: Chicken Curry with Whole Spices, Cream, and Tomato Sauce
Three years ago: Beef Enchiladas with Chipotle-Pasilla Gravy
Four years ago: Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

Spinach Lovage Gratin (from The Herbal Kitchen)

3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 large shallot, finely chopped
12 ounces spinach (baby or regular with stems trimmed), washed and spun dry
kosher salt
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
3 tbsp chopped lovage OR 1/4 cup chopped dill or mint OR 1 cup chopped sorrel
1 1/2 tbsp melted butter, divided
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp dry bread crumbs, divided
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Melt 1 tbsp butter in large saucepan over medium high heat. Add shallots and stir for a minute.
3. Add spinach and 3/4 tsp salt. Toss spinach until it wilts, adding more spinach as you go if it doesn't all fit in the beginning. Once wilted, transfer spinach to a bowl and return to heat.
4. Melt remaining 2 tbsp butter in saucepan and whisk in flour.
5. When roux bubbles, pour in milk and whisk until sauce boils and thickens.
6. Stir in spinach, herb of your choice, 3/4 tsp salt, and a bit of ground pepper.
7. Coat inside of a 6x10 baking dish with 1/2 tbsp of melted butter. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp of butter and shake to distribute.
8. Pour sauced spinach into pan.
9. In small bowl, mix together remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs, cheese, and remaining 1 tbsp melted butter. Sprinkle on top of gratin.
10. Bake gratin for 25 - 30 minutes until bubbly and browned.

Lamb Chops with Parsley, Mint, and Olive Saute

This has an hour marinade time, but you can cut that down if you're in a rush. Other than that, this comes together very quickly. Typically, I don't think of parsley as a green vegetable, but here the wilted parsley mixed with a bit of olives and mint works as a delicious topping for the lamb - something a bit different while allowing the lamb to still be centerstage. Traunfeld calls for finishing the chops in the oven, but if yours are as thin as mine, you might just want to sear them on the stove and be ready to serve.

One year ago: Rigantoncini with Sausage, Fresh Ricotta, and Orange
Two years ago: Cashew Cheese with a Bell Pepper Sauce
Three years ago: Thai-inspired Tacos
Four years ago: Vegetable Lasagna

Lamb Chops with Parsley, Mint, and Olive Saute (from The Herbal Kitchen)

2 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped mint
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
8 lamb rib chops (2 - 2 1/2 lbs)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups flat-leaf parsley sprigs
3/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped, pitted black olives (Kalamata or Nicoise)

1. Stir together garlic, lemon juice, 1/4 cup finely chopped mint, salt, and pepper in mixing bowl. Toss in chops and coat with marinade. Let sit at room temperature for about an hour.
2. Preheat oven to 400F. Heat olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium high. Lower chops to pan and brown on all sides. Place in oven and cook 5 - 10 minutes until medium rare.
3. Place chops on warm serving platter and tip excess oil out of pan.
4. Pour 1/2 cup water into skillet and scrape to loosen brown bits.
5. Add parsley and a light sprinkle of salt and wilt. Cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Stir in chopped mint and olives. Mound parsley on chops and serve.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Avocado Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe takes mac & cheese and makes it even more decadent with creamy avocado. The jalapeno, lime, and herbs give it a little bite and brightness to cut the richness just enough. For the cheese, any high quality cheddar works as a good substitute. I was able to find Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar which the author recommends as a substitute. My only caution with this recipe? The leftovers will discolor when exposed to air, so it's most appetizing the day of!

One year ago: Sweet-and-Sour Fish tiles
Two years ago: Chili and Basil Scallops
Three years ago: Egg Drop Soup
Four years ago: Rosemary Parmesan Popovers

Beecher's Flagship Cheddar with Avocado, Lime, and Shell Pasta (from Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese)

1 jalapeno, stemmed and cut in half
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 green onions, green parts only, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 ripe avocados, divided
10 ounces shell pasta
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
10 ounces Beecher's flagship cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. In a food processor, combine jalapeno, lime zest, lime juice, green onions, garlic, and flesh of 2 avocados. Process until smooth.
2. Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until tiny bubbles form. Turn off heat.
4. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir until light brown, ~ 3 minutes.
5. Slowly add milk to flour and butter and stir until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
6. Stir in salt, pepper, and cheese into milk until completely melted.
7. Add avocado-onion paste to cheese sauce and stir until well-blended.
8. Add pasta and cilantro to sauce.
9. Dice remaining avocado, toss with mac and cheese, and serve.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Marinated Rack of Lamb with Coriander and Honey

We've slowly been making our way through 2 lbs worth of a rack of lamb. Almost anything you do with lamb is tasty, but this is something special with an herby mix of sweet and sour. While you do have to remember to marinate this the night before, the dish itself is quick and easy to cook. It's perfect for company or as a weeknight meal.

One year ago: Chargrilled Morocco Chicken
Two years ago: Lamb Merguez Burgers with Harissa Mayonnaise
Four years ago: Lamb Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce

Marinated Rack of Lamb with Coriander and Honey (from Ottolenghi)

1 kg rack of lamb, French trimmed
20g parsley, leaves and stalks
30g mint, leaves and stalks
30g cilantro, leaves and stalks
4 garlic cloves, peeled
15g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 chilies seeded
1/2 tsp salt
50 ml lemon juice
60 ml soy sauce
120 ml sunflower oil
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp water

1. Cut lamb into portions of 2 or 3 cutlets. Place in a non-metal container.
2. Blitz remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pour over lamb. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 400F. Heat a cast iron skillet over a medium-high flame. Remove lamb from marinade (reserving it) and sear on all sides, ~5 minutes in total.
4. Cook in oven for 10 - 15 minutes depending on how cooked you want the lamb.
5. Meanwhile, heat marinade in small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Serve lamb with sauce.

Avocado and Sumac Whip

This of this as a cross between guacamole and hummus ... in other words, the perfect snack. This works great as a dip with bread or as a side dish to some fish that's been crusted with toasted cumin and a bit of sumac.

One year ago: Chile-Smothered Pork with Vinegar
Two years ago: Hare and Chocolate Sauce
Four years ago: Lemon Sugar Cookies

Avocado and Sumac Whip (from Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume)

2 ripe avocados
juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup tahini
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed sumac
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp black sesame seeds

1. Peel and cube the avocados, discarding the pits.
2. In a food processor, blend avocado with lemon juice until smooth.
3. Add tahini, olive oil, sumac, cinnamon, cumin, and garlic and mix until the consistency of mayo.
4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Asparagus Salad with Ricotta Salata, Fava Beans, Mint, and Farfalle

This salad is a celebration of spring. While limes are at a price premium now, the acid really brightens this salad and the zest adds a few beautiful green flecks. If you can't find ricotta salata, the author suggests that feta is a good substitute. I remember very early in my cooking on here (before I had a full appreciation of the amazingness of fresh mint) suggesting that you could skip the mint in an orzo salad. That was just crazy talk. Don't skip the mint here! This is a quick weeknight pasta salad.

One year ago: Creamy Lamb Meatballs
Two years ago: White Chocolate and Raspberry Tartlettes
Four years ago: Tomato and Olive Penne

Asparagus Salad with Ricotta Salata, Fava Beans, Mint, and Farfalle (from Melt)

1 cup shelled fava beans (1 lb in the pod)
10 ounces farfalle
1 lb asparagus, woody ends broken off, cut diagonally into 1" sticks
3 tbsp avocado oil, divided (or olive)
8 ounces ricotta salata, broken into small chunks
1/4 cup mint leaves, cut into chiffonade
juice and zest of 1 lime

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the fava beans for 1 minute (or until they begin to float). Scoop out with a slotted spoon, rinse under cold water, and when they cool remove the outer skin. Do NOT discard the water.
2. In the same water, cook pasta until it's al dente. Drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and cook until asparagus is slightly blistered, 4 minutes.
4. Toss fava beans, pasta, asparagus, ricotta salata, mint, lime juice, and lime zest in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle with remaining 2 tbsp oil and serve.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Vanilla Semifreddo with Rhubarb Compote

Think of this dessert as a luscious cake slice of vanilla ice cream covered in a rhubarb jam. The texture of the semifreddo is incredibly smooth with a rich flavor of vanilla. The rhubarb compote could easily be substitute for any other fruit compote, but the tartness lends a nice contrast to the richness of the semifreddo. The compote would also be great over regular ice cream or maybe even with yogurt for breakfast. This recipe does require a bit of washing of the mixing bowl, but the results are worth it and the stand mixer does do most of the work.

One year ago: Moroccan Spice-Rubbed Lamb Shoulder Chops
Two years ago: Roast Potatoes and Jerusalem Artichokes
Four years ago: Lentil, Goat Cheese and Asparagus Salad

Vanilla Semifreddo with Rhubarb Compote (from Sunday Suppers at Lucques)
1 tbsp flavorless oil
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
3 extra-large eggs, separated (I used large)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided

1. Lightly oil 9" round cake pan and line with plastic wrap letting wrap hang over the sides.
2. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip cream at medium until stiff peaks form. Transfer to another bowl, cover, and chill. Wash and dry mixing bowl and whisk.
3. Split vanilla bean and using a paring knife, scrape seeds and pulp into mixing bowl. Add egg yolks, vanilla extract, and 1/3 cup sugar. Mix at high speed with whisk until doubled in volume, thick, and light-colored, ~3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Wash and dry mixing bowl and whisk.
4. Whip egg whites at medium speed with whisk attachment for about 1 minute, until frothy. Turn speed to high and slowly pour in remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Whip on high until stiff peaks have formed, ~4 minutes.
5. Fold whipped cream into egg yolk mixture.
6. Fold egg white mixture into yolk and cream about 1/3 at a time.
7. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan and tap on counter 3 times. Cover with plastic wrap.
8. Place in freezer and freeze for at least 4 hours.
9. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving. Serve in slices with rhubarb compote above and below.

Rhubarb Compote
1 lb rhubarb
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup white wine
3/4 tsp cornstarch

1. Cut rhubarb stalks in half lengthwise and slice crosswise into 1/2" pieces.
2. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise and using a paring knife, scrape seeds and pulp into a medium pan.
3. Add vanilla pod, sugar, and 2 tbsp water to pan.
4. Without stirring, bring ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 8 minutes, swirling the pan once in a while until you have a deep golden brown caramel.
5. Add half of the rhubarb and the wine to the caramel. DON'T PANIC when the caramel seizes.
6. Turn the heat down to medium and stir with a wooden spoon breaking up the rhubarb until it's jammy.
7. Stir in rest of rhubarb and 1/2 cup water. Cook a few minutes until additional rhubarb is tender but not mushy.
8. Strain rhubarb over a bowl. Return the liquid to the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
9. Meanwhile, mix 1 tbsp water with cornstarch and whisk into liquid. Let it come to a boil and stir over medium heat until liquid is shiny and thickened.
10. Pour liquid back into the bowl and stir in rhubarb. Chill before serving.

Edamame Hummus

I made this as a warm side dish to go with some goat chops, but this works equally well as a cool appetizer to dip raw vegetables in. To me, this seems a little less fussy than making hummus (peeling chickpeas is not my idea of fun) and the flavor is equally good.

One year ago: Spice-Braised Tuna
Two years ago: Hash Brown Quiche
Four years ago: Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Edamame Hummus (from Smoke & Pickles)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups shelled cooked edamame (you can use frozen)
1 cup water
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin

1. In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and saute for 2 minutes or until soft.
2. Add edamame and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add water, tahini, lemon juice, soy sauce, salt, and cumin. Stir and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 6 minutes.
4. Transfer to a food processor and process until thick and crumbly (it doesn't need to be completely smooth). Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spicy Verbena Meatballs

These little meatballs make for a bright and refreshing spring meal. For some reason, when we were at the market, I saw the lemon verbena, but thought that I had already made the recipe that I needed it for, so I made do with his recommended herbal improvisation of mint instead. Next time though, I'll be having lemony meatballs!

One year ago: Beef Meatballs with Fava Beans and Lemon
Two years ago: Changde Clay Bowl Chicken
Four years ago: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Spicy Verbena Meatballs (from the Herbal Kitchen)

1 lb ground pork
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (I used serrano)
4 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp finely chopped lemon verbena or mint
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp coarsely chopped mint
1 cup yogurt

1. Put pork, garlic, jalapeno, green onions, lemon verbena, cilantro, ginger, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
2. Kneed together until evenly combined.
3. Pinch of pieces 1 1/2 tbsp in size and roll into balls. You can store on a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap in the fridge until you're ready to cook them.
4. Pour oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs.
5. Cook for 10 minutes until well-browned and cook through (they'll likely stick to the pan).
6. Stir mint into yogurt and pour in a small bowl for dipping. Serve.

Dilled Celery, Asian Pear, and Hazelnut Salad

Celery in general gets a bad rap. It's a flavor base for stews and soups or a vector for peanut butter, but so rarely appreciated on its own. This salad manages to highlight the celery in a way that works so well that it's surprisingly bright and refreshing. While I was in Seattle for work, I was happy to be able to eat in Jerry Traunfeld's new restaurant and just as his cookbooks show, he is a master of mixing herbs and spices. He suggests this would be nice served alongside a wedge of blue cheese and I agree.

One year ago: Boneless Pork Cooked with Toasted Coconut
Two years ago: Spicy Greens Salad
Three years ago: Breakfast!
Four years ago: Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

Dilled Celery, Asian Pear, and Hazelnut Salad (from The Herbal Kitchen)

1 1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp whole-grain mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup hazelnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced celery
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dill weed
1 medium unpeeled Asian pear or Bosc pear, cored and cut into thick matchsticks
1/2 cup coarselly chopped toasted hazelnuts

1. Whisk together vinegar, mustard, and salt in small mixing bowl.
2. Whisk rapidly as you slowly pour in oil.
3. Toss celery and dill with dressing in large mixing bowl.
4. Toss in pear and hazelnuts and serve.

Seared Fish with Tangy Habanero

I was pleasantly surprised with the the ease of this recipes, the bright flavors, and the beautiful presentation of a light pink sauce. Don't be afraid of the habanero in this recipe as the cream helps to mute it a bit (we actually made a 1/2 recipe using a whole habanero and found the heat rather mild). If you have a very thin and delicate fish (I was using Dover Sole), skip the initial sear and just poach the fish in the sauce.

One year ago: Stewed Chicken in a Mustard Greens-Spinach Sauce
Two years ago: Cucumber-Sesame Salad
Three years ago: Baked Potato with Barbecued Beef
Four years ago: Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita

Seared Fish with Tangy Habanero (from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen)

1 small (4 oz) red onion
2 tbsp fresh sour orange or lime juice
10 ounces (2 small round or 4 plum) ripe tomatoes
6 radishes
1/2 - 1 whole habanero chile
12 large sprigs of cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
4 fish fillets
2 tbsp oil
1/3 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream

1. Very finely chop onion with a knife, scoop into strainer, and rinse under cold water.
2. In a small bowl, stir together onion and juice.
3. Core tomatoes, cut crosswise in half and squeeze out seeds. Finely dice tomatoes and place in medium bowl.
4. Finely dice radishes and add to tomatoes.
5. Deseed habanero (or not) and finely mince. Add to tomatoes.
6. Finely chop cilantro (all of it, including the stems) and add to tomatoes.
7. Stir onion with juice into tomato mixture.
8. Heat heavy skillet filmed with oil over medium-high heat.
9. Sear fish on both sides until brown. Remove from pan.
10. Add salsa to pan and stir until wilted and liquid reduces.
11. Stir in creme fraiche, nestle fish back into pan, cover and simmer over medium-low until fish flakes. Transfer to plates and serve.

Brigante with Tilapia, Shallots, Spring Herbs, and Fusilli

One of my latest cookbook purchases is a book solely devoted to macaroni and cheese. If this recipe is any indication, it was a good, cheesy investment. A few notes on substitutions. She calls for Brigante cheese which I couldn't find and suggests substitutes of San Andreas (from Cowgirl Creamery which should've been easy for me to find, but was not!), Berkswell, Shepherd's Way Friesago, or Young Mahon. I ended up using a firm sheep milk cheese as recommended by the ever helpful cheese people at Bi-Rite. Usually, I just want to ponder the cheeses without being interrupted, but this time their friendliness worked to my advantage! For the tilapia, any white fish would work. I used some sole that we had in the freezer. She also suggests that you could use shrimp. Finally, for the herbs, I forgot that I actually needed tarragon and chevril for this recipe. Instead, I used a mix of mostly dill with a bit of parsley and marjoram. Feel free to mix up the herbs, but definitely make sure you get a bit of anise flavor in there as it works very well with the cheese and fish and cuts the richness a little. I would also consider upping the herbs to about 1/4 cup total, but I've been obsessed with adding more fresh herbs to dishes lately.

One year ago: Mustard Paste Smothered Cod and Mushrooms
Two years ago: Skillet-roasted Potatoes and Turnips
Three years ago: Sesame Chicken
Four years ago: Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Brigante with Tilapia, Shallots, Spring Herbs, and Fusilli (from Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese)
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
4 tsp chopped chervil
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
2 small tilapia fillets, ~1/2 lb
8 ounces fusilli
2 cups milk
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
7 ounces Brigante, rind removed, grated
lemon wedges to garnish

1. In a saute pan, melt 1 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft.
2. Add tarragon, chevril, and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
3. Add wine. Cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has cooked off, 2 minutes.
4. Transfer shallots and herbs to a small bowl and return pan to stove.
5. In same saute pan, add 1 tbsp butter and turn heat to medium. Saute tilapia for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to bowl, shred with forks, and set aside.
6. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water until al dente, drain, and set aside.
7. Heat milk in small saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to steam, turn off heat.
8. Place remaining 2 tbsp butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until roux begins to form light brown color, 3 minutes.
9. Slowly add milk and stir until sauce thickens.
10. Lower heat to medium-low, add salt, pepper, and sauteed shallots and herbs.
11. Remove from heat and add cheese to sauce, stirring until melted.
12. In large bowl, add pasta to cheese sauce and toss to coat. Fold in shredded fish, and serve with lemon wedges.

Pizza Bianca with Roasted Mushrooms and Fontina

It's been a while since we had homemade pizzas for dinner, despite having quite a few homemade pizza doughs hiding in the freezer. None of the usual suspects sounded quite right for pizza, so we decided to take inspiration from this recipe. While the original calls for 3 smaller rectangular pizzas, we decided to make one standard-sized one using our existing dough. The combination of roasted garlic, earthy mushrooms, and rich cheese was outstanding. My one complaint? There was a little too much cheese (did I just say that?) for the amount of mushrooms. The adjusted ratios are below, with 3/4 the amount of cheese and an extra cup of mushrooms. I also reduced the olive oil a bit (the original calls for 1 1/4 cups total!). One other bonus for this recipe that makes it a great weeknight dinner? The cheese is diced instead of grated, saving a bit of time and/or cleanup.

P.S. Do you often buy cookbooks from Amazon? If so, you should check out their program. A small portion of all of your purchases will go to support a charity of your choice. Note that once your sign up, it won't always redirect you from to, so you have to pay attention to the URL and/or logo image.

One year ago: Burrata with Asparagus, Pine Nuts, and Golden Raisins
Two years ago: Grilled Cumin and Chile Veal Meatballs
Three years ago: Potato Latkes
Four years ago: Tex-Mex Comfort Food

Pizza Bianca with Roasted Mushrooms and Fontina (adapted from The Cheesemonger's Kitchen)

4 cups mixed mushrooms (oyster, cremini, chanterelle, etc.)
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
9 garlic cloves, peeled
coarse cornmeal
9 oz Fontina Valle d'Aosta cheese, trimmed of rind and diced
pizza dough of your choice

1. Heat oven to 425F.
2. Spread mushrooms out on baking try and toss with 3 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Roast mushrooms for 10 - 12 minutes or until tender and golden. Set aside to cool. Increase oven heat to 500F for the pizza.
4. Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, combine 1/2 cup olive oil with garlic and cook over very low heat for 7 - 8 minutes or until soft and slightly golden. Remove garlic from oil and set aside to cool. Save oil for other uses.
5. Scatter cornmeal on a pizza peel and place shaped pizza dough on peel.
6. Squeeze garlic cloves with your fingers and spread over dough.
7. Scatter mushrooms on top of dough and follow with fontina. Drizzle with remaining tbsp olive oil (or more if you desire).
8. Shake pizza onto pizza stone in hot oven. Cook for 10 - 12 minutes or until dough is cooked and cheese is melted and golden.
9. Remove pizza from oven and serve.