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.