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Archive for September, 2009

From Dish Erin:

Zucchini zuppa with frizzled leeks

I realize summer is over, but I’m not yet ready to let go of it’s glorious produce. I love root veggies and sweet potato dishes, I do, but maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I actually had a summer that I’m hesitant to accept that it’s technically gone. I whipped this soup up a few weeks ago on a Sunday night as a way to put some balance into a particularly indulgent weekend (burgers and fries and beer, repeat, oh my!). The result was this light, healthy, summery and versatile soup. I used zucchini and leeks, but you could use ANYTHING green. Like broccoli? Throw it in. Green beans, peas, and/or asparagus would work, too. Nothing gets easier and lends itself more to creativity in the kitchen than soup.

Greens!Ingredients:

1 leek
2 tablespoons olive oil+ 1/4 cup for leek frying
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 large zucchini, sliced
2-3 cups of chicken (or vegetable) stock
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
Fresh basil, mint and/or parsley
Salt & Pepper

First things first, prep the leek, and here’s my preferred method for this recipe: Slice off the green tops. Slice off the bottom roots. You should be left with only the white stalk. Slice in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly. You now have two white halves, take one and slice crosswise so you have little 1/4 inch half-rings. Do the same to the other half but reserve about 2 inches for the garnish, set that 2 inch piece to the side. Prepped leeks

Sauté the shallot and garlic over in a stock pot or deep sauté pan over medium heat until soft.

Add the leeks and zucchini and continue to sauté for about 4 minutes or so, tossing (or stirring) to make sure all the veggies get coated with olive oil and butter. Season with salt & pepper.

Add stock to cover the veggies, cover and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes or so. Make sure the veggies are cooked through and when they are tender, remove from heat.

Veggies in panAdding the stock

Use a blender, food mill or immersion blender to puree the soup. When it’s 75% of the way there, add a handful of fresh herbs (I like basil, mint and/or parsley, but I bet dill would work nicely, too), a few tablespoons of heavy cream and more salt & pepper to taste. Then puree again until fully incorporated. Soup should be velvety and smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little bit more stock or cream, your choice.

Pour back into the pot over low heat to keep warm.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over high heat. While the oil is warming, take the leek you reserved and slice lengthwise to create thin little matchsticks. When the oil is hot, throw them in the pan and flash fry them. This will only take about 30 seconds, leeks go in, leeks come out, crispy and golden brown! Place them on a paper towel to absorb the oil and immediately salt & pepper. I also like to zest a little lemon over them.

Sliced leeksFry 'em up

Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with frizzled leeks. You can also top with a few slices of whole zucchini as pictured here. Grab a spoon and enjoy!

Soup's on with Dish Erin

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From Dish Jess:

Lebanese-style roast chicken with eggplant

I’ve been craving comfort food recently, and often find myself bringing together the flavors from both sides of my family. My mom learned to cook by having to make dinner for her working-class Jewish family in high school, but once she married my dad, she also learned to make the rich, spicy Lebanese food that’s an intimate part of his family’s life, and would often make those dishes for our family.

Roasted chicken was a staple dinner for us, and my mom’s recipe is a classic – seasoning beneath the skin, surrounding with potatoes & onions, sometimes carrots, and then baking & basting along the way. I was looking to make something with a bit more zest and spice than the average roasted chicken, so I incorporated some classic Lebanese flavors into this dish.

Seasoned chickenFor the chicken:
2 chicken legs with thighs, skinless or with skin
1 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp tahini
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp crushed mint
½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat over to 350°F. Mix all ingredients with a fork until they form a thick paste. Spread the paste in a thin layer over the meat. If you leave the skin on, separate the skin from the meat down to the leg bone, and spread the paste beneath the skin. I seasoned the skin with za’atar, a lebanese spice mixture that includes sumac, oregano & sesame seeds, but salt & pepper would also work well. Place into a roasting pan and surround with vegetables.

For the vegetables:
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup chopped walnuts
2 small eggplant, sliced into rounds
1 onion, cut into thin wedges

Toss the vegetables and walnuts with the olive oil and lemon juice. Spread them around the chicken in the roasting pan, and drizzle the yogurt over the top.

Chicken and veggies ready to roast

Roast all together for 45 minutes, basting the chicken once halfway through. Savor the fragrance of roasting onions, spices and chicken that fill your kitchen. Serve with rice and enjoy, making sure to eat some sweet carmelized onions scraped right off the pan!

Roasted and all set to serve

Dish Jess snacking

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From Dish Jodi:
White Bean and Fresh Herb Soup
Apologies, readers, for perhaps an overly simple recipe today. (And especially for the crappy photography – sorry about the use of flash!) But sometimes simple is good…and easy is exactly what you need. My Sunday was spent creating a freakin’ cute birthday cake in the shape of a baby chick for our cousin’s one year old’s birthday festivities…and then later watching 12 toddlers dismantle it. So, last night, on a sugar crash from all the yellow buttercream frosting I’d ingested, I needed something healthy, simple, cozy and especially – EASY. Thus – I went for an old standard I share with you here.

Ingredients:
Soup ingredients
1/2 cup cubed pancetta or bacon
1 cup onion diced
1 cup celery stalks diced
1 cup carrots diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp white wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans white cannelli beans
6 cups of chicken stock
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped basil

In a big stock pot, brown the pancetta til the fat renders and the meat is crispy. Remove meat, leaving the oil. Toss in the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook til softened and starting to brown. Toss in chopped sage and thyme.
Soup-in-progress
Deglaze the pot with the splash of white wine, and then add tomatoes, beans (rinsed first) and chicken stock. Simmer til the soup thickens slightly and the beans are warmed through.

Right before serving, sprinkle each bowl with some chopped parsley and basil. I love it with some crusty bread. It also reheats well for lunch during the week.

Jodi and Soup

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From Dish Rachelle:

Baked Eggs with spoon

Morning in my kitchen: the Boy has left for work, and I’m home with my cat, watching the leaves rustle against a grey sky outside my window.  I made this recipe for the first time last week, when the Boy was gone for a longer stretch, to a weeklong conference in Brighton.  I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  Cooking for just myself, I’m less inclined to make something terribly work-intensive, but also happy to experiment, because if my food tastes foul no one will be the wiser.  This turned out to be flavorful, satisfying, and ridiculously easy, mined from ingredients I already had in the house.

It started with leftover polenta.  No – credit where credit’s due – it started with Dish Jodi back in LA, who told me and the Boy the last time we visited about a baked eggs dish she’d made recently with cream and truffle oil.  It was so simple, but her fiancé had been floored.  Back at home in Brooklyn, the Boy started experimenting with baked eggs at home, adding diced tomatoes one morning because he knows I love shakshouka, and in a much less fancy way, ketchup on my scrambled eggs.  Then last week, I expanded on his recipe, layering polenta and salami in the crock-pot (what, I was hungry).  In the end, it was a game of food telephone that left me full and inspired.

Ingredients (serves 1; make multiple crock-pot’s and increase cooktime accordingly):

Roughly ¼ cup cooked polenta, or enough to cover the bottom of the crock

3-4 slices hard salami, cut into squares

2-3 tblsp. canned diced tomatoes

2 eggs

dash milk or cream

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Layer polenta, salami, and diced tomatoes in a crock-pot.

Halfway layered

Crack two eggs over it, and season with milk or cream and salt & pepper.

Crock with raw eggs

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until whites are set but yolks are still golden yellow*.

*It can be tricky to strike this perfect balance, so I found that if the yolks look done, but the whites aren’t 100% hard, you can let the dish rest for 5-7 minutes on the stovetop, covered with a large pot or an upside down bowl.

The crock is too hot to handle, so I’ve exchanged an egg for my shot (yes, that is an old 90210 joke).

Rachelle with egg

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From Dish Paige!:

PiesAndApples

THINGS THAT I LIKE:
1. Birthdays
2. Mini things (e.g. kittens, mini skirts, cupcakes)
3. Baking pies
4. Combining things that I like to make into things I really like.

And so, for Dish Rachelle’s birthday I made a skirt for her cat, Henry.

Cat in Skirt

(Editor’s Note: despite his Aunt Paige!’s best laid plans, my male cat does not and will not wear women’s fashion, or any clothes for that matter. Thanks.)

To make the dough:

Ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 sticks cold butter (cut into small pieces)
1/2 cup cold water
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Directions:
Measure out 1/2 cup water and place in the freezer. Meanwhile, cube the butter, place in a bowl, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. In the bowl of a standing mixer or large food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add the cold butter and mix until it looks “sandy.” You can also cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two knives – it takes forever, but works. The key here is to touch the butter as little as possible, so even though you might want to get in there with your hands, please refrain. Next, add the water (from the freezer) and red wine vinegar and mix until just combined. Separate the dough in two parts and flatten into discs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least a half hour.

To make the filling:

Ingredients:
5-6 large tart baking apples (e.g. Granny Smith)
3 heaping tablespoons flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon
a dash or two of nutmeg

Cut Up Apples

Directions:
First, peel and core the apples, then slice about 1/4 inch thick, and then cut in half length wise. Combine the apples with the rest of the ingredients and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

To make the mini pies:

Single Pie

Preheat oven to 425.

Take one disc of dough out of the refrigerator, and cut into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then into a 5 inch circle and fit into a cupcake tin. You’ll want to make sure there is some dough hanging over the edges of each one. Spoon the apple mixture into each pie, putting as much as you can into each – maybe even a little more. Since the apples will cook down, it’s ok to really heap in the filling. Dot each pie with butter and then fold over the excess dough. Next, take the second disc of dough out of the fridge and roll it out. Since I don’t have a cookie cutter, I used my 1-cup measure and traced around with a knife to cut out the tops for each pie. Place the rounds on top of each pie and with the tines of a fork, press around the edges to seal. Cut vents into the tops of each pie, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and off into the oven!

Bake the pies for about 15-20 minutes and then lower the heat to 350 and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the filling is bubbling.

PaigeNPie

As you’ve probably gathered by now, it’s a bit of a process, and you might look a little….disheveled afterward, but it’s so worth it! And here they are getting ready to be delivered to the birthday girl:

Pies in Transit

Editor’s Note: These are amazing. Thanks, Dish Paige!

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From Dish Amelia:

Breakfast Before Burning

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. Its the start of Fiestas de Santa Fe, a September tradition in my hometown that begins with the burning of Zozobra on a Thursday night.  Zozobra (also called Old Man Gloom) is a fifty-something foot tall puppet that represents everything bad in the year. People flock downtown to eat dinner, go to parties, listen to music, and then taunt and shriek at old moaning Zozo until a fire dancer lights him up, fireworks explode, and we can all find some relief that the bundled up badness has been burned away. Regrettably, its been years since I’ve been back to New Mexico at this time, but every year I put on some version of a fiesta dress and dutifully write a list of those things I want to burn, and then I burn the list in the kitchen sink.

It’s a cool gray day, which is perfect for this new years of sorts, and the best meal for a new beginning is breakfast. I decided to make something comforting, colorful and simple, something to slurp at while I write my list, something that will invigorate me for catharsis.

I don’t measure for this recipe, so add onion, dairy, herbs and spice as you like.

onion, sliced, and caramelized
eggs, poached
buttermilk, yogurt or plain kefir
dill
salt
pepper
Hungarian smoked agridulce paprika
ground coriander

Caramelized onions

Do the onions first, and put some in the bottom of your bowl. Pour in some buttermilk and season it with the spices and S&P. Poach the eggs and slip them in.  Top with more onions and the dill.  Have with plain toast and tea. Burn list at dark.

Amelia writing diligently
Amelia getting her tea on

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From Dish Danielle:

It’s still SUMMER!  No matter what they say…

Lemon Lime Basil

So in my book, summer lasts until Sept 21, when the first official day of Fall arrives.  Sure, it’s getting cooler and the kids are all back to school—but these can be the very best days of summer! Traffic dies down, the beaches are empty, and you might be able to visit a museum in peace (well, somewhat).  I’m still receiving summer fruits and veggies from my CSA, so that’s what I’m sticking to until the Fall Harvest really takes over.

Fresh Peach Salsa with Lemon Lime Basil & Lemon Lime Basil Simple Syrup

I was lucky enough to be given practically a whole bush of Lemon Lime Basil upon my departure from upstate this past Labor Day weekend.  Since I knew it wouldn’t last long, I dreamed up a few simple summery ways I could enjoy it and also keep the dwindling season alive…

Peach Salsa:

Peach Salsa

3 peaches, finely diced

½ of 1 red onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ of 1 red pepper, finely diced

½ of 1 jalepeno, finely diced

1 square inch of ginger, finely diced (or microplaned)

salt

1 tbsp sugar (if needed)

handful of lemon lime basil, chiffoned.

Juice of ½ a lemon, (more if desired)

Toss peaches, onion, garlic, red pepper, jalepeno, ginger and liberal pinch of salt into a medium bowl.  Pour lemon juice over and mix.  (you can also use lime juice if you’d prefer)  Give it a taste.  Add more salt if needed.  Add the sugar if needed.  Toss your Lemon Lime Basil into the salsa, give it a mix, and you’ve got a fresh summer salsa!  You can enjoy this in so many ways: simply with tortilla chips, tossed into a mashed avocado, or spooned over chicken or fish.  I broiled a few swordfish steaks and noshed on it that way.

Salsa with Swordfish

Lemon Lime Basil Simple Syrup:

Soaking Lemon Lime Basil

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

large handful of Lemon Lime Basil

Boil the water, and add the sugar—whisking until dissolved.  Once cooled slightly, toss in your herbs.  I used the seedling pods that had begun to grow on the Basil bush, which also introduced a TON of flavor.  Allow this to sit for 15-20 minutes so the flavor really takes to the syrup.  This can also be used in numerous ways: COCKTAILS.  Yes.  Iced tea, lemonade, or seltzer with pep!  You can even pour it over fruit as a dessert.

Lemon Lime BasilLemon Lime Cocktail

Enjoy the final days of Summer!

Danielle cooking...Danielle eating!

Lime Basil on Foodista

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