Thursday, December 17, 2015

Danielle's sweet potato gratin

It's nearly summer here and the mercury is climbing, but for some reason our vegetable box keeps including sweet potatoes. On the one hand, it's given me a new appreciation for a vegetable I rarely seek out. On the other hand, this dish feels more in tune with seasons in the Northern hemisphere than here where it's expected to reach 40C this weekend. Unlike many Thanksgiving side dishes, this recipe doesn't feel the need to add more sweetness to the sweet potatoes. I paired it with balsamic-glazed steak on a bed of rocket (arugula!) which worked beautifully. In a colder climate, some roasted meat would be a great, comforting pairing.

Two years ago: Sole Stuffed with Crab
Three years ago: Galveston Crab Cakes
Four years ago: Quick and Easy Chinese Greens
Five years ago: Goat Cheese and Asparagus Risotto
Six years ago: Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

Danielle's sweet potato gratin (from Ottolenghi)

6 medium sweet potatoes (1.5kg)
5 tbsp roughly chopped sage or thyme
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
250 ml whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Wash the potatoes, but don't peel. Cut them into disks 5mm thick.
3. In a bowl, mix together sweet potatoes, sage, garlic, salt and pepper.
4. Arrange the sweet potato in a deep ovenproof dish by packing them standing up next to each other. Any extra garlic or sage can go on top.
5. Cover dish with foil, place in oven and roast for 45 minutes.
6. Remove foil and pour cream over the potatoes. Roast, uncovered for 25 minutes until tender. Serve.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Pork Tenderloin Roulade Stuffed with Herbed Spinach with a Quick Pan Sauce

This recipe is a little bit fussy, but still quick enough for a weeknight dinner and elegant enough for company ... and you can get out some of the frustrations of the day when you pound out the meat! Don't skip on the pan sauce.

One year ago: Pork Vindaloo
Two years ago: Kale Greens in Coconut Milk
Three years ago: Black Pepper Crab
Four years ago: Red Braised Pork
Five years ago: Chocolate Cinnamon Cream Scones
Six years ago: Mediterranean Couscous and Lentil Salad

Pork Tenderloin Roulade Stuffed with Herbed Spinach with a Quick Pan Sauce (from All About Roasting)

1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tsp thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt and pepper
5 ounces baby spinach
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley, dill, and/or basil
2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Regianno
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted and chopped
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 pork tenderloin (1 - 1 1/4 lbs)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp finely chopped shallots
2 tbsp brandy or sherry
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp creme fraiche or heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, 3 minutes.
3. Add spinach to pan and pinch of salt. Toss until wilted, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
4. Squeeze excess liquid from spinach and stir in herbs, Parmigiano, pine nuts, and nutmeg.
5. Butterfly the tenderloin by making a horizontal incision down the entire length in the center stopping about 1/2" before you cut the tenderloin in two. Open it like a book. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the surface and use a meat pounder or small heavy pan to flatten it until 1/4" - 1/2" thick.
6. Season tenderloin with salt and pepper and use a spatula to spread the stuffing over the pork, leaving a 1.5" - 2" border along the far edge of the meat. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll into a tube shape and secure with kitchen string ever 2" to 3".
7. Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and sear pork, turning with tongs to brown all sides but one, ~8 minutes total. Turn pork onto the last side and transfer to the oven.
8. Roast pork, turning once after 10 minutes, and cook until thermometer registers 140 - 145F, ~ 18 - 24 minutes.
9. Transfer pork seam side down to a carving board and let rest.
10. Add butter to the skillet and return to medium heat. Add shallots and saute until softened, ~2 minutes.
11. Add brandy, scrape pan, and cook until evaporated, ~1 minute.
12. Add chicken broth and simmer until reduced by half, ~ 4 minutes.
13. Add creme fraiche and simmer 1 - 2 minutes.
14. Slice pork into 1/2" thick slices. Arrange 2 - 4 slices on a plate and spoon sauce on top. Serve.

Basil, Anchovy, and Zucchini Pasta

It feels strange to be enjoying the bounty of summer produce in December, but here with are with an abundance of greens and zucchini. I've never tried growing zucchini so I've never felt the pain of garden overload, but our CSA box seems to want to share it nonetheless. I had a zucchini recipe earmarked in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, but when I went to make it, I realized we were out of eggs. This one became the hasty backup and to be honest, I was a bit suspicious of how much I'd like it. I shouldn't have worried though. It's an explosion of cheesy pasta with plenty of umami thanks to the anchovies. It's also a great quick and easy dinner option for those days when you want to minimize cook time and heat in the kitchen.

Note the recipe calls for small zucchini. Ours were big, so I sliced them before boiling. I've also simplified a bit to only dirty one pot.

One year ago: Lemon Rosemary Chicken
Two years ago: Sole Stuffed Crab
Three years ago: Galveston Crab Cakes
Four years ago: Pork Meatball Banh Mi
Five years ago: Baked Green Lasagne with Meat Sauce
Six years ago: Arugula and Cheese Pseudo Frittata

Basil, Anchovy, and Zucchini Pasta (from Maggie's Harvest - a gorgeous Australian cookbook!)

400g (about 12) small zucchini, ~8cm long
sea salt
500g pasta
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
12 anchovy fillets, chopped
20 basil leaves
100g freshly grated pecorino

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and cook the zucchini for a few minutes.
2. Remove the zucchini with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a bit of pasta water, and transfer to a serving bowl.
4. Slice the zucchini into 2 or 3 pieces, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and grind on black pepper. Add zucchini to pasta.
5. Toss anchovies in pasta with basil, pecorino, and another drizzle of olive oil. If the pasta need moistening, add some of the reserved water. Serve.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Herb and Garlic Roasted Poulet Rouge

I'm seasonally confused right now. Allegedly, it's spring here, but the calendar month certainly seems like it should be fall. The weather's not a straight-forward indication either: yesterday it was 32C outside and today it's only 15C. Our vegetable box seems to be sharing my seasonal confusion as we keep getting sweet potatoes and kale, so I find my cooking continually veering towards fall. This dish in particular feels like I veered towards Thanksgiving, especially after I paired it with a roasted sweet potato recipe from Ottolenghi and wilted kale from Nopi. Perhaps it's a good thing though that it was a mini-Thanksgiving feast since I'll be spending Thanksgiving in Madrid and this chicken exceeded my expectations for flavor. Crispy skin, bright herbs, plenty of garlic, and oh so moist. Maybe I should've expected that based on the amount of butter? But my immediate reaction was that I need to make this recipe again. That doesn't happen too often, especially with chicken! It does require a bit of planning ahead because ideally you want to brine the chicken the night before, but nothing is terribly complex. If the amounts feel odd, it's because the brine was originally meant for a turkey (multiply by five for a turkey!) and I scaled down to 1 chicken (the original recipe calls for two).

One year ago: Braised Pork Shoulder with Pears and Thyme
Two years ago: Steamed Fish Curry
Three years ago: Chicken Fricassee
Four years ago: Chipped Beets and Beet Greens
Five years ago: Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake
Six years ago: Chocolate Layer Cake

Herb and Garlic Roasted Poulet Rouge (from Pickles, Pigs, and Whiskey)

8 cups very warm water
7/10 cup salt
4/5 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 sprigs thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1.6 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1/5 cup hot sauce
1.6 tbsp black peppercorns, toasted and crushed
1 whole chicken (3 to 4 lbs)
3/8 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
2 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced mixed fresh herbs of your choice (I think I had closer to 3)
1/2 large yellow onion, quartered
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp all-purpose flour

1. To make the brine: In a pot large enough to hold the chicken, combine water and salt and stir until it has dissolved. Stir in Worcestershire, thyme, bay leaves, sage, hot sauce, and peppercorns.
2. Remove the giblets from the chicken and submerge in brine. Add more water if bird is not fully covered. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 425F.
4. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry.
5. Mix butter with 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, minced garlic, and fresh herbs. Set 1 1/2 tbsp of flavored butter aside. Rub the rest of the butter under the skin of the chickens (above the breasts).
6. Toss onion, celery, sliced garlic, thyme, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper with olive oil in a bowl. Stuff chicken cavity with mixture.
7. Rub outside of chicken with reserved 1 1/2 tbsp flavored butter and place chicken in a baking dish.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until skin changes color.
9. Lower heat to 375F and cook for additional 20 minutes or until thigh reaches an internal temperature of 160F.
10. Turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes until chicken is a rich brown.
11. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before carving.
12. Pour cooking juices into a small saucepan and slowly whisk in flower over medium heat until gravy thickens.
13. Serve gravy over roasted chicken.

Cardamom Pepper Steak

I firmly believe that less is almost always more when it comes to a beautiful piece of steak, but I generally can't resist the urge to try something new. It doesn't get much simpler than this, but the heady cardamom adds a wonderful something extra to a good grilled steak. With all the time and energy you've saved on the main, you'll have plenty to create some delicious, more traditional Indian side dishes.

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

Cardamom Pepper Steak (from Indian Cooking Unfolded)

1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1 tsp coarse salt
4 filet mignons (3 - 3.5" thick, 6 to 8 oz)

1. Preheat a grill to high.
2. Grind peppercorns and cardamom seeds in a spice or coffee grinder until consistency of coarsely ground black pepper. Stir in salt.
3. Rub spice blend into both sides of steaks.
4. Sear meat on grill to desired level of doneness. He suggests 8 to 12 minutes per side.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Massaman Lamb Curry with Sweet Potato

Thai food is one of those few foods that I still don't feel guilty about ordering for delivery when I'm too lazy to cook (sushi is the other big one), because I know they'll do a better job than me. I should just enjoy that state, but for some reason, I still feel the need to try to improve my Thai skills. After a couple of months in Australia, I decided I needed some local cookbooks to better acquaint me with the local produce, seafood, and cuts of meat. Spirit House popped up a few times in my review of cookbooks and I was drawn to the fact that that was also the name of where we got married. So far, the cookbook seems very accessible for a Thai book, often blending Australian ingredients with Thai flavours. Massaman curry is generally made with beef and potatoes, but lamb and sweet potato make a great variation (not to mention I had both on hand!). The recipe called for lamb leg, but I had stewing lamb (from the shoulder), so I significantly increased the cook time (think 2 hours for the first simmer) to ensure that my meat was perfectly tender. I found the sauce was a little on the thin side (although the coconut milk was also very thin) which seems to be the style here so I reduced further (actually a little too much!). The notes say making this ahead improves the flavor, so I did so. I haven't made it multiple times though so I can't compare! The end result was just as satisfying though as I hoped it would be. I'm eager to try more from this book.

Two years ago: Duck Burgers with Shiitake Mushroom Ketchup
Three years ago: Duck Stew with Black Cardamom and Cherries
Four years ago: Lamb Stir-Fry
Five years ago: Celebration Yellow Rice
Six years ago: Stuffed Zucchini

Massaman Lamb Curry with Sweet Potato (from Spirit House)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
500g lamb leg, diced (see notes if using shoulder)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, cut into bite-sized dice
2 cups coconut milk
2 tbsp Massaman Curry Paste
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
2 tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup tamarind water
Cooked jasmine rice

1. Heat oil in wok and sear the meat.
2. Add onion and cook for about half a minute.
3. Add enough water to cover, bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes. (If doing the longer simmer, you'll want to cover.)
4. Add the sweet potatoes, cover the wok and simmer until partially cooked, 5 minutes.
5. Strain out meat and vegetables, reserving the broth to thin the sauce later if necessary (it wasn't for me).
6. Pour thick coconut cream from top of milk into the now empty wok, stir in curry paste, and cook for 5 minutes.
7. Mix in sweet potato, meat, and peanuts. Stir in rest of coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, and tamarind, stirring to dissolve sugar.
8. Simmer until potatoes are cooked, about 10 minutes. Serve with rice.

Massaman Curry Paste
10g dried red chiles
2 cardamom seeds, roasted
1 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, roasted
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, roasted
1 1/2 tsp shrimp paste, roasted
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stalk lemongrass, finely sliced
1 tbsp peeled and finely chopped galangal
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1. Soak chilies in hot water for 30 minutes. Remove from water and chop finely.
2. Combine roasted spices, peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon and pound in a mortar and pestle. (I cheated and used a mini food processor.)
3. Add remaining ingredients and process to a paste, using some of the soaking water if necessary.

Curried Shrimp Salad with Avocado and Orange

Growing up, I wasn't a big fan of mayonnaise, so the idea of a salad like this would've just made me turn up my nose. I blame the french fries in Montreal (and perhaps discovering that Miracle Whip wasn't really mayonnaise?) for helping me overcome my aversion. The first time I saw them, I couldn't think of a worse thing to do to french fries. A year or so later? I caught myself asking for mayonnaise when I was served fries in the US. I'm glad I've moved on because it's opened up some delicious dishes to me. This one in particular caught my eye while trying to avoid heating up the house during a heat wave (I realize that those of you heading into winter may not appreciate this as much ... or maybe you will!). Of course, the heat wave broke an hour or so before dinner (Melbourne seems to be fond of extreme temperature shifts), so my efforts were for naught, but this fresh salad hit the spot with plenty of fruit and vegetables to balance out the creamy shrimp.

She calls for boiling and chilling the shrimp yourself to add more flavour. You certainly can (and I did), but it does take this dish from super quick and easy to a bit more planning required. You first need to simmer a quick stock with 1 carrot, 1 celery stick, 1 lemon, 1/2 sweet onion, 2 bay leaves, and some salt for 10 minutes. You take some of the stock out and chill it so it can serve as the ice bath for the shrimp (using ice in ziplock bags so you don't dilute it). The rest of the stock you use to boil the shell on shrimp in for 1 minute, before you chill them, then peel and devein. I'm sure it added flavour, it's just a little bit fussy for a weeknight. So the quick and easy version below? Just buy some cooked shrimp.

Two years ago: Summer King Salmon Kebabs
Three years ago: Indonesian Spice Cake
Four years ago: Sweet and Sour Napa Cabbage
Five years ago: Beef Rendang
Six years ago: Mint Brownies

Curried Shrimp Salad with Avocado and Orange (from Lighten Up Y'all)

1 tbsp finely chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup mayonnaise (she calls for light because it is a "light" cookbook, but you know I can't endorse that)
2 tbsp finely chopped celery
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 lb cooked and chilled shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped mint
grated zest of 2 oranges, with fruit set aside
1 avocado, seeded and chopped
5 oz arugula
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
kosher salt and pepper

1. Place onion in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until just tender, 25 seconds. (You can also sweat in a skillet, but why not save a dish?)
2. Let onion cool slightly, then add mayo, celery, and curry powder. Stir to combine.
3. Add shrimp, parsley, mint, and grated orange zest to mayo and season with salt and pepper.
4. Separate orange into segments. You can use the knife to slice off the top and bottom and then cut around or if yours is easy enough to peel, you can do it by hand.
5. Combine avocado, orange segments, and arugula in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss.
6. Pile salad among 6 plates, top with spoonful of shrimp, and serve.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chipotle Chicken with Creamy Spinach and Sweet Potatoes

Originally, this recipe calls for broiling the chicken which I assume would give it a nicer sear, but as mentioned before, we don't have a broiler on our oven (only a "grill") which doesn't exactly work for making a sauce out of this. It's all for the better because baking instead allowed me to add some sweet potatoes to the mix that works very well with the smoky chipotles. Note for the spinach that baby spinach here is going to become a mushy mess. Use regular spinach or might I suggest even kale or some chard?

One year ago: Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad with Arugula and Hazelnuts
Two years ago: Turkey and Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Peppers
Three years ago: Aromatic Green Beans with Pounded Mustard and Cardamom
Four years ago: Pork in Green Peanut Sauce
Five years ago: Apple and Cheddar Scones
Six years ago: Breakfast Tacos

Chipotle Chicken with Creamy Spinach and Sweet Potatoes (adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen)

2 to 3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo finely chopped
1 1/4 cups whipping cream or creme fraiche, divided
4 medium-large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 to 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
6 cups (about 10 ounces) stemmed spinach, rinsed

1. Combine chopped chipotle with 2 tbsp cream. Smear over chicken breasts and refrigerate for several hours if time permits.
2. Preheat oven to 425F.
3. Toss sweet potatoes in olive oil and salt and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
4. Lay chicken breasts in a baking dish just large enough to hold them.
5. Roast chicken and sweet potatoes in oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked. After 10 minutes, flip chicken and add remaining 1 cup plus 2 tbsp around the chicken.
6. Keep chicken and sweet potatoes warm while you make the sauce and spinach.
7. Pour cream mixture into a saucepan and add broth and spinach. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until spinach is wilted and cream is reduced and thick, 3 minutes.
8. Spoon sauce around chicken and sweet potatoes and serve.

Creamy Wild Salmon with Kale

As we settled into Melbourne, this is one of the first recipes I thought of to make. I was missing the Indian food I normally cooked, but not quite equipped to make most of my Indian food dishes. This recipe was a nice compromise. Be sure to serve with rice to soak up the rich coconut sauce.

One year ago: Sauteed Skate with Parsnip Puree, Brussels Sprouts
Two years ago: Portobello Mushrooms with Pearl Barley and Preserved Lemon
Three years ago: Pureed Mustard Greens with Clarified Butter Sauce
Four years ago: Pinon-Breaded Chicken with Cranberry Salsa
Five years ago: Refried Bean Enchiladas
Six years ago: Mexican Rice

Creamy Wild Salmon with Kale (from Indian Cooking Unfolded)

1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 lbs skinless, boneless wild salmon fillet
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 dried cayenne chiles, ground or 1 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 medium size bunch fresh kale (8 ounces)
2 tbsp canola oil
6 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced or finely chopped
1 can (13.5 - 15 oz) unsweetened coconut milk

1. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of turmeric on each side of fish. Set aside as you make the spice paste.
2. Combine vinegar, chiles, salt, and nutmeg in small bowl.
3. Fill medium-size bowl with cold water. Remove tough ribs from the kale and thinly slice into long, slender shreds. Dunk shreds into bowl of water to rinse off any grit. Drain.
4. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon and sear until light brown, 2 minutes.
5. Flip salmon and sear another 2 minutes. Transfer to plate.
6. Add garlic to skillet and stir-fry until light brown and aromatic.
7. Pour vinegar slurry into skillet and stir to mix. Simmer 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of rht pan.
8. Add kale and stir to coat. Pour 1/2 cup water into skillet and lower heat to medium, cover, and stew for 5 to 8 minutes until kale is tender.
9. Stir coconut milk into kale and bring to a boil.
10. Add salmon to liquid and baste until fish starts to flake, 3 to 5 minutes.
11. Transfer fish to a serving plate. Let sauce boil 3 to 4 minutes to thicken. Pour sauce over salmon and serve.

Pork Loin Roasted in Green Sauce

Pork is often stereotyped as a dry, flavourless meat which couldn't be further from the truth when cooked properly. This dish pairs beautifully cooked pork with bright herbs for a dish that's simple enough for a weeknight (provided you have the time to roast), but fancy enough for a dinner party.

One year ago: Tuna Sashimi Salad with Wasabi Vinaigrette
Two years ago: Panfried Seabass with Harissa and Rose
Three years ago: Crumbled Cheese with Scallions and Tomatoes
Four years ago: Black Radish Soup in Roasted Acorn Squash
Five years ago: Cauliflower Gratin
Six years ago: Cheese Enchiladas

Pork Loin Roasted in Green Sauce (from the Herbal Kitchen)

2 cups flat-leaf parsley sprigs, gently packed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped sage leaves
1/4 cup marjoram leaves
grated zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
6 anchovy fillets
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil
one 10-rib, bone-in pork loin roast, frenched, about 5 lbs

1. Put herbs, lemon zest, capers, anchovies, garlic, and salt in a food process and process for 15 seconds. Scrape sides and turn back on, pouring in olive oil in a steady stream.
2. Put the pork in a roasting pan or baking dish and slather all sides with HALF of the green sauce. If you have time marinate for several hours or overnight. Bring it to room temperature an hour before roasting.
3. Preheat oven to 425F. Roast for 30 minutes, then pour 1 cup hot water into the pan.
4. Turn down oven to 350F. Roast until thermometer reads 150F, 1 to 1.25 hours more.
5. Rest pork in roasting pan for 10 minutes.
6. Simmer pan drippings over low heat with reserved HALF of green sauce.
7. Carve pork and serve with sauce.

Dill-Spiced Salmon

Even though I've loved the ideas of flavours in Marcus Samuelsson's Soul of a New Cuisine, the execution often fell flat and I parted with it prior to leaving San Francisco. I couldn't resist giving him a second chance though with his newest cookbook, Marcus Off Duty, on the kindle. Luckily, so far, it doesn't seem to have the same issues as Soul of a New Cuisine. This dish makes for a quick, flavourful weeknight dinner.

One year ago: Grilled Lamb Chops with Feta and Mint
Two years ago: Parsley and Barley Salad
Three years ago: Pan-Grilled Sea Scallops
Four years ago: Basil, Hazelnut, and Chocolate Cupcakes
Five years ago: Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine and Hoisin Sauce
Six years ago: Basic Risotto Recipe

Dill-Spiced Salmon (from Marcus Off Duty)

4 tbsp olive oil, divided
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 1/2 tsp chile powder
1 tbsp coriander seeds, finely ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, finely ground
ground pepper
4 (6 oz) skin-on salmon fillets
kosher salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter

1. In a mini food processor, blend 2 tbsp of olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, dill, garlic, chile powder, cumin, coriander and 1/4 tsp pepper to a paste.
2. Season salmon with salt and pepper.
3. Heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
4. Add salmon to skillet, skin side down, and brush half of the paste on the fillets. Cook for 4 minutes.
5. Add butter. Continue to cook, spooning oil and butter over salmon for 2 minutes.
6. Flip salmon and brush remaining paste onto other side. Remove salmon after very briefly being seared.
7. Let salmon rest for a few minutes before serving.

Surfing Goat Chevre with Cherry Tomatoes, Spinach, Dill and Gemelli

This recipe reminds me a lot of the food I was cooking when I started this blog. Even better, it's cheesy comfort food with the bright flavors of lemon and dill and a bit of celebration of summer's delicious cherry tomatoes.

One year ago: Cinnamon and Hazelnut Meringue
Two years ago: Imperial Potatoes
Three years ago: Grilled Chicken with a Cashew-Tomato Sauce
Four years ago: Chana Masala
Five years ago: Caramel Apple Blackout Cake
Six years ago: Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Pasta

Surfing Goat Chevre with Cherry Tomatoes, Spinach, Dill and Gemelli (from Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese)

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
12 ounces gemelli (spiral pasta)
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 cups chopped baby spinach
1 tbsp finely chopped dill
2 tsp lemon zest
8 ounces chevre, crumbled
4 ounces Monterey Jack

1. Line a plate with four paper towels and set tomato halves cut side down. Top with another plate and put a weight on it to press down (a cast iron skillet works great). Drain for 15 minutes, changing the towels once and pouring liquid from the plate as necessary.
2. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to pot.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it starts to bubble, turn off the beat. (You could also just warm in the microwave.)
4. Place butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add flour and stir until roux begins to take on a light brown color, 3 minutes.
5. Slowly add milk to the roux and stir until sauce thickens.
6. Stir in salt, pepper, spinach, dill, and lemon zest, cooking for 2 minutes while stirring. Remove from heat.
7. Add cheese to sauce, stirring until melted.
8. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat. Serve pasta, topping with tomatoes and more dill if you like.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Buffaloed Chicken Legs with Braised Celery and Roquefort Smashed Potatoes

The other cookbook that got quite a bit of rotation during our wait for kitchen supplies was One Pan, Two Plates, which I picked up while it was on sale for Kindle. Having tried at least a half dozen recipes from it, I can safely say that it's not on my must have list because few have been wows, but most have been solid and very good options for when your time or kitchen equipment is limited. This recipe in particular piqued my interest for being something quite different from what I usually make at home. I was surprised by how much I liked the braised celery and blue cheese smashed potatoes are a great combo.

One year ago: Marinated Romano Peppers with Buffalo Mozzarella
Two years ago: Cubed Pork with Potatoes, Yogurt, and Tamarind
Three years ago: Moroccan Carrots
Four years ago: Saag Paneer
Five years ago: Lemon and Cranberry Scones
Six years ago: Raspberry-topped Lemon Muffins

Buffaloed Chicken Legs with Braised Celery (from One Pan, Two Plates)

4 to 6 meaty chicken drumsticks
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
12 oz fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into thirds
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 or 2 tbsp hot sauce
2 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp crumbled Roquefort cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
3. Heat a 12" ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Brown chicken on all sides, 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
4. Pour off all but 1 tbsp of the fat in the pan. Add shallot and potatoes and saute 2 minutes.
5. Scrape potatoes to one side of the pan and add celery in a single layer to the empty half.
6. Pour broth over vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
7. Arrange chicken across potatoes and celery and top with 1 tbsp of hot sauce.
8. Transfer to oven and roast until chicken cooked through and potatoes are tender, 30 minutes.
9. Remove pan from oven and drizzle chicken with remaining 1 tbsp hot sauce.
10. Transfer chicken and celery to two plates.
11. Mash potatoes with a potato masher and add in sour cream and cheese. Scoop onto plates and serve.

Rack of Lamb with Pecan-Mint Dipping Sauce

This year had the longest break from cooking I experienced since I started this blog. First, cooking suffered from April through June as we prepared for our move. I culled my cookbooks and spent more time traveling for work. Then we had a full cooking hiatus as we traveled around North America. In mid-August, we arrived in our new home city in Melbourne, Australia and I was finally ready to cook again, but I wasn't in my own kitchen which made everything more difficult. When we moved into our house, I had a new challenge ... very little cooking equipment! The point was certainly driven home that bowls can be a critical part of prep and life is easier when you own more than two plates.

It was a happy day though when I remembered that I had a few Kindle versions of cookbooks that I hadn't really had a chance to dig into yet. While some were quickly ruled out because they were too complicated for the equipment situation, one rose to the top as my go-to book during the more than one month that we waited for our kitchen supplies and cookbooks to arrive. Lighten Up Y'all was an impulse buy for me while I was recovering from surgery and reminiscing about the delicious Southern food we had had over the holidays, yet that I seldom eat at home. Southern food is delicious, but has a reputation for being a bit heavy, so this book by Virginia Willis (better known for Bon Appetit, Y'all) seemed like a good compromise. But then the book just sat, unused, on my hard drive. Apparently all I needed was a push though, because it's quickly become a favourite.

This lamb dish is fancy enough for company, but quick enough for a weeknight meal. The yogurt dipping sauce is a great pairing for the meat and I wouldn't have minded eating it on its own. The only disappointment the night that I made this was realizing that the broiler on our oven was not a broiler at all, but a narrow grill. I had so been looking forward to finally having an oven with a working broiler after more than two years without one!

One year ago: Lavender-rubbed Duck Breast
Two years ago: Spicy Lamb with Yogurt, Cream, and Fenugreek
Three years ago: Roasted Red and Golden Beets
Four years ago: Paneer
Five years ago: Linguine with Roasted Tomato and Almond Pesto
Six years ago: Easy Buttermilk Cake

Rack of Lamb with Pecan-Mint Dipping Sauce (from Lighten Up, Y'all)

1 rack of lamb (~1.5 lbs)
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp olive oil
Pecan-mint Dipping Sauce
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp chopped pecans
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
coarse salt and ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Remove lamb from the refrigerator 15 minutes before roasting. Season with salt and pepper.
3. In small bowl, combine mustard, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
4. Heat olive oil in heavy ovenproof skillet over high heat. Brown lamb, 3 - 5 minutes per side.
5. Flip the rack so the meat is right side up and brush with mustard paste.
6. Roast until meat registers 135F, 12 to 15 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, combine dipping sauce ingredients in small bowl.
8. Turn oven to broil and cook until golden brown, ~2 minutes.
9. Let lamb rest covered 5 minutes before slicing into single or double chops.
10. Serve with dipping sauce on the side.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Cardamom Fennel Scallops

You know you're behind on updating, when you log in and see a post that's 6 months old, still in draft form, and that begins "Gosh, it's been a long time." Umm, yeah, it has. I suppose I'll keep that post intact below and add further updates in the next few.

Gosh it's been a long time. I may've nearly forgotten how to cook in between foot surgery and work travels. Ok, maybe not entirely. I did somehow manage to buy new cookbooks while in bed recovering from surgery. As anyone who has spent any amount of time talking to me about cooking knows, I'm a little obsessed with Raghavan Iyer's cookbook 660 Curries. The only problem with that tome is that it's a little intimidating with a LOT of (delicious!) recipes but few pictures. Also, nearly everything calls for its own curry blend. Great for me, but not so great for recommending to others. When he came out with an "easy" cookbook with 10 ingredients or less in 2013, I was intrigued but decided I probably didn't need another Indian cookbook. While recovering from surgery though, it popped up on my Kindle list for $2.50 and of course I caved. If I couldn't cook, at least I could read about cooking?

A few weeks later, I managed to convince August (who was stuck on cooking duties) that he needed to make some Indian food. The result was a complete success. Quick and easy, but full of flavour. The original recipe calls for scallops, but Iyer also recommends cod which we used to great success. Three months later, I'm still thinking about this delicious dinner. Since then, we've managed to make a few recipes from this book (turmeric hash browns, kale and salmon).

One year ago: Pizza Bianca with Roasted Mushrooms and Fontina Well, one year ago when I first started this post. One year ago, now: Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise
Two years ago: Saffron Scented Lamb with an Almond Sauce
Three years ago: Buffalo, Mushrooms, and Feta Meatballs
Four years ago: Indian Cooking Building Blocks
Five years ago: Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Six years ago: Blueberry Boy Bait

Cardamom Fennel Scallops (from Indian Cooking Unfolded)

1 tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
¼ tsp cardamom seeds
1 lb large sea scallops (12 to 15)
4 medium-size cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 dried red cayenne chiles (like chile de árbol), stems discarded, coarsely chopped
1 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt
2 tbsp canola oil
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

1. Grind fennel, mustard, and cardamom seeds to consistency of finely ground black pepper. Transfer to medium bowl.
2. Add scallops, garlic, chiles, and salt to spice blend and stir to coat. Refrigerate covered until ready to cook.
3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops and sear 2 to 3 minutes per side.
4. Pour coconut milk into skillet and reduce to medium. Scrape to deglaze.
5. Cover skillet and simmer 2 to 3 minutes until scallops are cooked through. Transfer scallops to a serving platter.
6. Let sauce simmer uncovered until thickened, 2 minutes. Pour over scallops.
7. Sprinkle scallops with cilantro and serve.