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Archive for May, 2009

Cod with escarole, turnips and butter beans

There can be something so luxurious about not going away for a holiday, not having to worry about travel, and enjoying NYC as the locals spill out towards the beach. This past Saturday, the Boy and I spent a leisurely day celebrating life along the L-train, beginning with a trip to the Union Square farmer’s market. I’m a sucker for free samples, and the baskets of fresh produce. We walked away with a cute bunch of baby turnips and three slender heads of escarole (and I washed down the taste of smokra with half an apple cider donut, even though I had just eaten breakfast). Back on the train, we discussed what to make for dinner.

“I’m envisioning fish,” I said dreamily.

“Something pan-seared with skin,” the Boy said.

“Isn’t it weird how we’re totally on the same wavelength?” I gushed.

“Or, um, Gordon Ramsey’s,” he said gently, at which point I realized that we were both picturing a dish he’d cooked on the BBC that morning, in order to save another cocky, clueless chef from himself.

Back in Brooklyn, we took an aimless walk out to the Morgan L stop, then moved back towards home by way of the fishmonger on Grand and Bushwick Avenue. The cod looked the best for the price, so in the end, this dish was as lovely and random as our loping constitutional from Manhattan, to Williamsburg, to Bushwick.

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 ½ pounds fresh cod
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, rinsed and chopped
1 tblsp. fresh thyme, chopped
3 bunches escarole
1 bunch baby turnips
1 15 oz. can butter beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 pinches cayenne powder
salt and black pepper to taste

Cut the fish into evenly sized filets – or ask the fish guy to do it for you. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic, parsley and thyme. Add about a teaspoon of salt, and a dash or two of cayenne pepper. I like to combine my ingredients in a large tupperware, so that after I’m done, I can cover it tightly and give it a light shake. This coats the fish pretty well, and makes me think of Shake n’ Bake (what…I’m from New Jersey). Store in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

cod filetSeasoned cod

In the meantime, remove turnip greens and reserve for another meal. Cut bulbs in half, leaving the skin on, and steam them for 5-7 minutes, until tender. After they’re cooked, sautee them over medium heat in a tablespoon or so of olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. This shouldn’t take longer than 3-4 minutes, and will give them a much nicer appearance and mouth feel. Reserve to a plate. I have to thank the Boy for his contribution to this step.

Escarole and turnips

In a non-stick pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, and add fish. Cook on one side, then the other, each for about 4 minutes. When cod is cooked through, it will look opaque and begin to flake. Reserve to a plate, and keep the juices separate, but handy.

Roughly chop the escarole into manageable pieces, remembering that it cooks down. In a large, deep saucepan, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, and add the escarole, stirring intermittently. When greens have begun to wilt, add turnips, and butter beans, and pour the juices from the fish over the mixture. Cover 2 minutes, until beans are warm and greens are wilted, then stir so that heat is evenly distributed. Add fish, and cover for another 1-2 minutes.

Escarole, beans, turnipsFull pan

I would have served this with the awesome San Francisco sourdough bread I purchased, had I remembered to put it out. After I cook, I like to eat standing in my kitchen, taking tiny bites while the wind blows in my hair.

Rachelle and bean

Just kidding.

Rachelle and cod

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Sesame Chicken

Here’s a secret about me…a few months ago I bought the Twilight Special Edition 2-Disc DVD Extravaganza and watched it every night for a week straight while exclusively eating take-out Chinese for dinner — and it kinda felt like Heaven. I mean seriously, sparkly vampires and fried rice? What could be better? Of course subsisting on a diet of deep-fried, heavily sauced, and minimally nutritive food isn’t something I advocate, and so for peace of mind and the sake of my waistline I had to curb my take-out Chinese habit (but my Twilight obsession grew as I quickly devoured all four of the books — do it, they’re so good!).

Still, the specter of that delicious combination platter loomed in my mind, the sweet siren-like smell flooding my senses as I walked past the restaurant on my way home from the subway, screaming to me, “Paige!, come here then go home! Edward Cullen will wait for you, he’ll always be there for you!” Content to blame the food and not my perhaps unhealthy obsession with Twilight for these cravings, I came up with a more nutritious and just as delicious at-home version of one of my favorite dishes: sesame chicken.

For the rice:
1 cup brown rice
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 cup frozen peas & carrots

For the chicken:
6 tsp. honey
4 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. minced ginger
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
4 tsp. sesame seeds

2 large egg whites
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast

vegetable oil

1 head broccoli, cut into florets

Directions:
Start with the brown rice because it takes the longest amount of time. Add water, salt & sesame oil to a pot and bring to a boil. Stir in brown rice, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook the brown rice for about 40 minutes (or according to package instructions). About 5 minutes before the rice is done, add 1 cup of frozen peas & carrots (for that real take-out flair!), place lid back on and finish cooking.

Meanwhile, combine honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Set aside for use later.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites & cornstarch. Cut the chicken breast into 1 inch cubes. Add to the egg & cornstarch mixtures, season with salt & pepper and toss to coat.

Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet (you don’t need very much oil if using a really good non-stick). Add the chicken pieces to the pan in one layer. Cook until golden brown on both sides and no longer pink in the middle — about 8 minutes (you may need to put the lid on the pan towards the end to cook through or cook in batches if your pan isn’t big enough to hold all the pieces).

While cooking the chicken, steam the broccoli in a pot until just tender – this should take about 10 minutes.

Once the chicken is done, place in a large bowl with the reserved sesame sauce and steamed broccoli. Toss all the ingredients together to coat, return to the pan, and quickly heat.

Serve with the brown rice.

If you like yours spicy, feel free to add some sriracha or chili flakes to the sesame sauce or put on top of the dish once you’ve finished.

Makes enough for 4 people for dinner or 2 Twilight-viewing sessions.

Paige with chopsticksPaige with more chopsticks

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Lemon Cake Pudding

Finally it’s hot. Not yet offensively humid and sticky, but the kind of warmth we’ve all been dreaming of for weeks. I love a long indecisive spring with a slide and a jump into summer. The weather made me make this lemon dessert. It’s two things at once, spring and summer, a custard on the bottom and a light cakey souffle on top. Perfect warm or cold, it is sweet and tart and a snap to make-I hope you try it! Salud!

Recipe:

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs separated (yolks lightly beaten, whites beaten to soft peaks)
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup milk

lemon cake ingredients

Mix flour, sugar, salt, beaten egg yolk, lemon juice, and zest. Add milk slowly. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour into buttered dish or ramekins (will fill about 6 of these), set in a pan of warm water, and bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes, or until slightly golden on top.

lemon cake with spoon

Amelia with spoonAmelia glasses spoon

The spoon was my grandmother’s from the 30’s.

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