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.