Sunday, March 23, 2014

Marinated Lamb Popsicles with Fenugreek Cream Curry

The culinary highlight of our vacation a few years ago (Vancouver, Yukon, NWT, and Alaska) was an Indian restaurant in Vancouver named Vij's. I cook a lot of Indian food at home, so I'm always a little reluctant to go out for it, but I was told I couldn't miss Vij's. It was a drizzly day when we arrived to Vij's 15 minutes before it opened to find a long line of people waiting to get in. They don't offer reservations, so we dutifully waited in line only to miss the first seating. Luckily, we were close enough to the front to be taken to the bar to wait. We managed to grab a seat and some cocktails to wait out the first seating while servers came by with delicious trays of free hors d'oeuvres. The dinner itself exceeded all of my expectations, in particular this dish with delicious lamb and a fragrant, creamy fenugreek cream sauce. The cookbook experience isn't quite as magical as our dinner there, but then again, I did have to do the cooking and no one was bringing out Indian cocktails for this meal. I've included the original recipe below, but I suggest that you might want to reduce the amount of cream in the sauce a bit as this cookbook seems to like thing extremely saucy. There's a 2 - 4 hour marinade on these, but other than that, it's a quick and easy weeknight meal despite being elegant enough for a special occasion. The cookbook suggests serving these over thinly sliced potatoes cooked with a bit of turmeric.

One year ago: Dry-Fried Beef Slivers
Two years ago: Stir-fried Shrimp Sambal
Three years ago: Five-Spice Beef Stir-Fry
Four years ago: Eggs en Cocotte with Pesto

Marinated Lamb Popsicles with Fenugreek Cream Curry (from Vij's)

1/4 cup sweet white wine
3/4 cup grainy yellow mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
4 lbs French-cut racks of lamb, in chops
Curry Sauce
4 cups whipping cream
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 - 4 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp turmeric

1. Combine wine, mustard, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Add lamb and coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 - 4 hours.
2. In large bowl, combine cream, salt, paprika, cayenne, fenugreek, and lemon juice. (I was tempted to skip this step to avoid dirtying an extra dish. Don't!! The lemon juice will thicken the cream - similar to when you make a quick substitute for buttermilk.)
3. Heat 3 - 4 tbsp of oil in a medium pot on medium heat. Saute garlic until golden.
4. Add turmeric and cook for 1 minute.
5. Stir in cream mixture and cook on low to medium heat for about 5 minutes or until gently boiling.
6. Preheat a stove-top cast iron grill or barbecue to high heat. Cook lamb for 2 - 3 minutes per side.
7. Serve lamb with cream curry on top or as a dipping sauce.

Three-Bean Chili with a Cashew-Pistachio Sauce

Those of you who know me well are probably wondering what a chili that includes beans is doing on this blog (not only beans, but tomatoes as well!). This is an Indian-flavored chili, so I think it's okay to bend the rules. If you don't like heat, you'll want to scale back the chilies or cayenne a bit. The sweetness of the nuts makes a nice contrast to the heat and Indian spices though. Feel free to top this with cheese, yogurt, or sour cream.

One year ago: Shredded Beef with Sweet Peppers
Two years ago: Potato Rendang
Three years ago: Pork and Sweet Potato Stew
Four years ago: Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

Three-Bean Chili with a Cashew-Pistachio Sauce (from 660 Curries)

1/4 cup canola oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, finely chopped
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp Toasted Cumin-Coriander blend (a 2:1 blend of coriander and cumin seeds toasted and ground)
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup pistachio nuts
3 cups water, divided
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (or 1/2 cup dried, cooked)
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or 1/2 cup dried, cooked)
1 can black beans beans, drained and rinsed (or 1/2 cup dried, cooked)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and fresh chiles and cook, stirring, until vegetables soften and brown, ~20 minutes.
2. Stir in tomatoes, ground chiles, cumin-coriander blend, salt, and turmeric. Lower heat to medium and cook until tomato softens, 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, pour 1/4 cup water into a blender jar and add 3 types of nuts. Puree to a thick, slightly gritty paste. (If you need to add more water, you can take it out of the water you're adding in step 5 to the blender. Just be careful you don't add too much. You want the nuts to grind evenly and if you add all the water, they won't.)
4. Add nut paste to the vegetable mixture.
5. Pour 2 3/4 cups water into the blender jar (or whatever you have left out of 3 cups total). Whir blades to wash out any stuck bits of nut paste. Pour into vegetable mixture.
6. Add pinto, kidney, and black beans and stir.
7. Bring chili to a boil, lower heat to medium-low, cover pan, and simmer for 15 minutes.
8. Reduce heat to low, stir, and simmer another 15 minutes or until sauce is thick.
9. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Albacore Crudo with Avocado, Cucumber, and Ruby Grapefruit

I've been swooning over the new AOC Cookbook, but I haven't posted much from it because most of the recipes are a bit involved. This one was too good not to share though and despite it having a few components, no cooking is required and it's quick enough for a weeknight meal. I was a little worried the grapefruit salsa would be too sour, but paired with the creamy avocado puree, it was perfect. Hopefully our fish box sends us more sushi quality tuna, because I'm almost out.

One year ago: Changde Rice Noodles with Red-Braised Beef
Two years ago: Cabbage with Coconut Milk
Three years ago: Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers
Four years ago: Simple Tomato Sauce

Albacore Crudo with Avocado, Cucumber, and Ruby Grapefruit (from The AOC Cookbook)

2 ruby grapefruits
2 tbsp finely diced shallots
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, divided (zest one of them first)
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 tbsp seeded, diced jalapenos
1 medium-sized Persian cucumber, diced to 1/4 cup
2 ripe medium avocados
12 ounces sushi-grade albacore or hamachi
1 bunch watercress, stemmed, cleaned, and dried (or arugula)
1 tsp lime zest
2 tbsp sliced cilantro

1. Cut stem and blossom ends from grapefruits. Following contour of fruit, remove peel and white pith. Slice between membranes and remove segments. Cut each segment into 4 pieces and place in medium bowl.
2. Add shallots, 3 tbsp lime juice, and 1/2 tsp salt to grapefruit and let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Whisk in 6 tbsp olive oil and stir in jalapenos and cucumber.
4. Cut avocados into quarters lengthwise. Remove pit and peel, cut into chunks. In food processor, puree with 1 tbsp lime juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tsp salt.
5. Cut fish into 1/4" thick slices against grain. Season fish with lime zest, salt, and pepper.
6. Spoon avocado puree onto plates. Scatter watercress over puree. Arrange fish on puree. Spoon cucumber-grapefruit salsa over and around fish. Sprinkle cilantro on top and serve.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Anchovies, and Pistachios

This recipe comes together relatively quickly, but the anchovies add tremendous depth of flavor to the sauce. The original recipe calls for 1 head of cauliflower for a pound of pasta, but I found myself wanting more cauliflower, so I've adjusted the recipe accordingly below. Note that below is approximately a half recipe, I'd estimate it serves 4.

One year ago: Numbing-and-hot Chicken
Two years ago: Cabbage with Coconut Milk
Three years ago: West African Peanut Soup
Four years ago: Mango and Avocado Salad

Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Anchovies, and Pistachios (adapted from Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition)

1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
2 oil-packed anchovies, drained, rinsed, and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup chicken broth
8 ounces orecchiette
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp grated Parmigiano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1. Heat oven to 350F. Spread pistachios on small baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 5 minutes. Once cool, coarsely chop.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook orecchiette until al dente.
3. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, melt butter over medium heat until it smells nutty and is golden brown.
4. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring for a minute or two.
5. Add anchovies and garlic and cook until anchovies dissolve in butter.
6. Add chicken broth and cook until cauliflower is tender, 5 minutes.
7. Add drained cooked orecchiette, parsley, Parmesan, and red pepper flakes to cauliflower. Stir to combine.
8. Serve topped with toasted pistachios and more red pepper flakes if desired.

Creamy Mascarpone Polenta

Polenta is such a rich satisfying side for braised meat. It generally doesn't need much help, but this recipe pushes it over the edge with a decadently rich and definitely not diet-friendly polenta. Will this become my standard polenta recipe? No, but it's perfect for a little extra indulgence.

One year ago: Red-braised Mushrooms
Two years ago: Chicken Satay
Three years ago: Doughnut Muffins
Four years ago: Oscar baking

Creamy Mascarpone Polenta (from Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition)
4 cups milk
1 cup coarse-ground cornmeal
6 tbsp butter, divided
1/2 cup mascarpone or cream cheese

1. In a large saucepan, bring milk to a gentle boil.
2. Pour cornmeal slowly into milk, whisking to prevent clumping.
3. Reduce heat to simmer, add 3 tbsp butter and season with 2 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper.
4. Cook polenta, stirring occasionally, until thick and tender.
5. Stir in remaining 3 tbsp butter and then mascarpone and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Season to taste and serve.

Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew

It's been a while since I even clicked through to read Smitten Kitchen's recipes. I don't quite know when I transitioned from primarily online recipes from bloggers I trust to almost exclusively relying on my (ever growing) cookbook collection. I prefer the cookbooks because I have a clear idea what to expect and especially for regional food, the background information can be extraordinarily helpful. However, I couldn't resist the pull of a beef stew that claimed to be the solution to bland beef stews. This post also happened to coincide with a recent conversation with my husband about how I generally don't like stews that much, so it seemed like the internet was indeed telling me how to solve that problem. I was cautious about making this dish given that mustard has never been my favorite condiment, but it exceeded my expectations and I'd be happy to eat it again.

One year ago: Stir-fried Pork with Green Peppers
Two years ago: Sesame-Crusted Roast Chicken in Tahini and Caper Sauce
Three years ago: Cornbread
Four years ago: Scrambled Eggs with Broccoli Pesto

Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew (from Smitten Kitchen; originally The NYT)

1/4 pound salt pork, pancetta or bacon, diced (or 2 tbsp bacon grease)
1 large onion, finely diced or pearl onion
3 shallots, chopped
2 pounds beef chuck, in 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Cognac
2 cups unsalted beef stock or duck stock
1/2 cup smooth Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons coarse Dijon or Pommery mustard
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into half-moon slices
2 tbsp butter
3/4 pound mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and quartered
1/4 cup red wine

1. Place salt pork in a Dutch oven or a large heavy kettle over low heat, and cook until fat is rendered. Remove solid pieces with a slotted spoon, and save for another use.
2. Raise heat to medium-low, and add onion and shallots. Cook until softened but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl.
3. Dust beef cubes with flour, and season lightly with salt and more generously with pepper. Shake off excess flour, and place half the cubes in the pan.
4. Cook beef in batches over medium-high heat until well browned, almost crusty, on all sides, then transfer to a bowl with onions. Repeat with remaining beef.
5. Add Cognac to the empty pan, and cook, stirring, until the bottom is deglazed and any crusted-on bits come loose.
6. Add stock, smooth Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon coarse mustard. Whisk to blend, then return meat and onion mixture to pan. Lower heat, cover pan partway, and simmer gently until meat is very tender, about 1 1/4 hours to 2 hours.
7. Add carrots, and continue simmering for 40 minutes, or until slices are tender.
8. As they cook, heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté mushrooms until browned and tender.
9. Stir mushrooms into stew along with remaining mustard and red wine.
10. Simmer 5 minutes, then taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.

Tuna Poke

While we were in Hawaii, I fell in love with poke. Raw fish seasoned with sesame and soy - what's not to like? When another round of sushi-grade tuna showed up in our seafood box, I couldn't resist trying out poke. Although none of my cookbook collection had any poke recipes, a blog I used to use and trust did. With this straightforward recipe, I was not disappointed. I hope you also enjoy this quick reminder of tropical paradise.

One year ago: Rice Noodles with Beef and Broccoli in Cantonese Sauce
Two years ago: Red Beef Curry with Squash
Three years ago: Pasta with Lamb and Butternut Squash
Four years ago: Double Broccoli Quinoa

Tuna Poke (from Use Real Butter; originally No Recipes)
1/2 lb. sashimi-grade tuna, cubed (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch)
4 green onions, minced
1/4 cup rehydrated seaweed (preferably wakame; I had kombu)
2 tsps toasted sesame seeds
2 tsps soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
sea salt

1. Toss everything together except the salt.
2. Sprinkle salt over the poke and serve with rice.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

For some reason, every time I see Brussels sprouts for sale this time of year, I'm drawn to them. They're such cute little baby cabbages. Unfortunately, August doesn't share my fascination with them and complains every time they enter our home. These, however, earned a "not bad" from him and I didn't mind finishing the leftovers off as my only dish for lunch later in the week. The balsamic vinegar adds a nice twist to standard Brussels sprouts and of course pancetta makes everything better.

One year ago: Martin Yan's Genghis Khan Beef
Two years ago: Fall-Apart Lamb Chops with Almond-Chocolate Picada
Three years ago: Impossible Chocolate Flan
Four years ago: Tostados

Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta (from A.O.C. Cookbook)

1 lb small Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed, and cut in half
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 lb pancetta, finely diced
2 tbsp finely diced shallots
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup veal or chicken stock (I used duck)

1. Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in olive oil and butter and wait another minute.
2. Add Brussels sprouts and season with 1 tsp salt and some pepper. Shake the pan to brown evenly.
3. After a few minutes, reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 - 4 minutes until sprouts soften.
4. Add diced pancetta, stir, and cook for a minute or two until pancetta starts to crisp.
5. Stir in shallots and garlic and cook for another minute or so.
6. Pour in balsamic vinegar and reduce by half.
7. Add stock and reduce to about 1/4 cup, stirring to glaze sprouts. (Be patient, this takes a bit of time.)