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Archive for April, 2010

Guest Dish Nicole is an account executive for Honora pearls. She says: “I went to school for fashion merchandising and moved to NYC directly after I graduated. I live in Greenpoint Brooklyn and love to cook and host for friends and family. In addition to my “account” work for Honora, I also do a weekly pearl pick on Honora’s face book page called “Nic’s pick of the week”. Every week I choose a new item from our line that I personally love and model it for the page to get fan feedback!” Let’s give Nikki some love!

Spring has finally arrived! Like most people all winter long I was indulging in my favorite carbohydrates: bread and pasta. But just because it is warm outside doesn’t mean you need to give pasta the old boot. I for one cannot stand the spring-induced diets my friends have all started without consulting me first (how dare they). Low-carb diets are no fun and way overrated if you ask me. Pasta can be healthy and light depending upon how you prepare it. Whether it is as a main course or a side dish, I love taking my friend pasta along for the ride.

Recently I’ve been browsing cook books for lighter dishes and came across this gem. It screamed SPRING (maybe because it’s in the name) and I had to try it:

Ingredients:

4oz Penne (whole wheat penne is also great with this recipe)
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 cup whole milk (you can sub in 1or 2% milk for a lighter version)
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic- minced
1 shallot diced
¼ cup thyme
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest
Shaved or shredded parmesan cheese

Prep:
First boil water in a large pot and cook pasta most of the way and add in asparagus for the last 3 minutes. Drain and return to the pot and set aside.

Next I made the sauce mixture by whisking the milk, mustard, flour, salt and pepper together and set aside. Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat and add garlic and shallots and cook until golden brown. I added quite a bit more garlic and shallots due to the plethora I had at my house. The more the merrier I say, and believe me the outcome was perfection. Whisk the milk mixture into the sauce pan with the garlic and shallots.

Simmer for a few minutes and add salt and pepper to taste. The mixture will start to thicken, pull from heat and add thyme, lemon juice and lemon zest.

Now we are in the final stages: pour the mixture into the large pot of pasta and heat over medium heat until coated.

For my dish, I decided to add a protein. I pounded 3 chicken breasts, coated with olive oil salt, pepper and a pinch of Aleppo pepper for added kick and baked for 20 minutes in the oven at 375 degrees. I was prepared to grill but was out of propane, much to my dismay.

Now for serving: Just throw the pasta in a bowl, slice up the chicken and serve the hot pasta immediately garnished with parsley and parmesan. The pasta was met with rave reviews by my guinea pigs I mean friends. This is one dish I will be serving up again.

Oh pasta my dear – to know you is to love you…

Recipe adapted from Eating Well.

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From Dish Rachelle:

I’ve been sick the past week, and my diet can be summarized in three items: chicken soup with rice, hot tea, and ice cream (apparently I once told the Boy that ice cream was good for sick people. In retrospect, I’m not sure if I stand by the combination of dairy and a head cold, but it’s certainly good for morale.) I was all set to get my SLD done well in advance, but then this seasonal sneeze-fest hit, and I was begrudgingly glued to the couch. Cut to last night: with the help DayQuil (a wonderdrug) I’m feeling better, ready to prepare and eat real food, provided it wasn’t too labor intensive. I wanted something healthy and colorful, so this quick meal, which rates high on deliciousness scale and low on work, was perfect. It’s also a great way to stretch a good piece of fish – sort of the upscale meatloaf of salmon preparation.

Ingredients (makes 4 cakes):

1 boneless salmon filet, roughly 3/4 of a pound
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed (to taste), chopped
1 tsp. (+/-) capers
1-to-2 tbsp. chopped dill
1-to-2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 egg
Italian breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

With the sharpest knife available, remove silver salmon skin by peeling back a corner and following it, slowly, with your knife, staying as close to the skin as possible. On an angle, slice filet into very thin pieces, and drop into a large bowl.

Add garlic, jalapeño pepper (more seeds = more spiciness), capers and chopped herbs.

Crack an egg over the fish and mix until white and yolk are well combined. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the mixture until desired consistency is reached (the cakes should be moist enough to manipulate into patties, but not too wet). Form salmon cakes and position on a baking sheet, either with a dribble of olive oil or aluminum foil underneath to prevent sticking.

Bake salmon cakes for 20 minutes. I served them with some pan-fried sweet potato (cut into 1/2-inch squares, sauteed over medium low heat with some chopped onion, a dash of cayenne, S&P, and then finished over high heat to caramelize the sides) and asparagus spears (baked for 9 minutes with olive oil, S&P). As I write, I’m enjoying a cold salmon cake on an english muffin, with two kinds of mustard – dijon and grainy – and some baby spinach. Great for dinner, great for the leftovers, so that I don’t have to push this recovering body too hard and actually leave the house.

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From Dish Paige!:

The other night at about 4am I was woken up by what sounded like a lawnmower in my kitchen. Turns out, the motor of my fridge decided to go nuts, and so in a bleary-eyed fit I unplugged the crazy machine and tried to go back to sleep. The next morning, knowing how poorly my fridge worked anyway (no really I don’t think it actually froze stuff, my ice cubes were always really soft), coupled with the understanding that it was going to take a miracle to get a replacement any time in the near future (I don’t have to tell you how unresponsive landlords/repair people are), I threw out the entire contents of said broken refrigerator. And so this Saucy Little Dish is brought to you by the letter C for Condiments, which I am replacing one by one, beginning with the basics: mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup.

Ingredients:
1 roasted chicken breast
1/2 small red onion, diced
2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
1 heaping tablespoon mustard
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
olive oil
salt
pepper
ketchup
whatever you want to put on your sandwich (I topped mine with a slice of swiss cheese and some bibb lettuce)
whatever bread you want to use (I used rye)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the sweet potatoes into French fry shaped pieces, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper and place the fries in one layer on a aluminum-foil lined baking sheet. Place on the top rack of the oven. At the same time, place the chicken in the oven – roast it however you want to – there are some great recipes on this site here and here, but whatever you normally do will totally work. I like to slice a few lemons and an onion and lay those on the bottom of the roasting pan, placing the chicken (seasoned with salt and pepper) on top, and then into the oven on the bottom rack.

Once the sweet potatoes are crispy and golden brown on top, flip them over and put them back in the oven.

If the universe is on your side, both the potatoes and the chicken will be done at the same time.

For this recipe, you’ll only need one chicken breast from the whole roast, so save the rest for something else (might I recommend chicken pot pies?). Cut the chicken breast into small cubes, and mix with mayonnaise, mustard, red onion and salt and pepper and you’re ready to make your sandwiches (there will be enough for 2)!

Serve with the sweet potato fries and some ketchup. Enjoy!!!!!

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This cycle’s Spicy Side of Meatball is Adam, aka Cusp, aka the Brew-Ru: a man who waxes philosophical about everything from T-shirts to grilling. Currently living in Northern California, he can train your dog to chase geese off your property, clean your house using only environmentally friendly products, and soon, he’ll be able to litigate your ass to the edge of the galaxy. He’s also Dish Rachelle’s former roommate. Check out his blog for some beer pairings.

Ah, Spring! When young men’s fancies turn all tangy and sweet! The weather warms; the birds and buds appear; work and homework are no longer an option because the brain is aflutter with possibilities only the springtime brings. For some men, there is the content assuredness of one who has already Found what he is Looking For, but for so many of us the return of spring means only a return to Toil, and Disappointment – and perhaps Glory.

The perfect Barbecue Sauce is not jealous, its charms are as beguiling in a marinade as they are bewitching in a condiment. It shines on the grill, brushed on bubbling baby-backs, and as a simmering medium for your roasted and pulled Boston Butt. You secretly want to find a way to make it into icing for your birthday cake. What follows herein is the first step on a journey into a larger world. If you have never made your own Barbeque Sauce (always capitalize “Barbeque Sauce”) it may be a revelation; if you are a seasoned griller it will seem tame – ultimately, like all professions of faith, it is only one delicious glimpse of the infinite.

Ingredients:

5-8 decent sized cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
3 large white or yellow onions, peeled; cut them into halves or quarters lengthwise, then into 1/4″ slices
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 large (28oz) can of tomato puree or unseasoned sauce
2/3 cup concentrated lemon juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 bottle (6ish oz) Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

In a skillet, sauté chopped onions and garlic in melted butter or olive oil until tender. Remove from skillet and place in a slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients. Turn it on Low for up to ten hours. Let it cook, uncovered, until it is as viscous as you wish, being sure to stir every so often to forestall that ring from forming inside your slow cooker. Remember, your slow cooker is a Temple for the Barbeque Sauce. When it has reached your desired consistency, cover it and let it be. If you can give it a night to rest, that goes over pretty well, and it will keep in the fridge for… probably for a couple of weeks? It’s pretty acidic. To that end, don’t store it in plastic or with aluminum foil.

The path to Glory has many branchings. Some of these include
– Plenty of extra cayenne
– Molasses instead of brown sugar
– Three or five brined anchovies
– Coleman’s Mustard Powder
– Diced pepper. I like Serrano, but also want to try Scotch Bonnet.

Suggestions for Service:
– Once I tried putting the sauce through the food processor when it was done, trying to achieve that smooth consistency. It didn’t really work that well, and I don’t recommend it.
– Brush just about anything with this stuff while on the grill, and garnish just as it comes off. Also have extra on the table.
– Get a side or two of pork Baby Back or Spare Ribs. Cut them up so they’ll fit in your slow cooker (this will probably mean orienting them vertically and calling on your tetris skills, or making a nifty spiral design if your slow cooker is cylindrical). Pour sauce over them until covered, turn on, walk away for a few hours. NB: Be careful removing them from the cooker – if you just grab a bone and pull, a bone is all you’ll get. They’ll be that tender.
– Get a decent size (4+ lbs) piece of pork country ribs, aka shoulder, aka Boston Butt. Rub in some cayenne, salt, pepper, and plenty of finely ground coffee. Roast it until quite rare. Let it cool and cut / pull it apart until there aren’t really any chunks left, then put it in a slow cooker, pour the sauce over it until covered, turn it on and go make this:

Ingredients:
1 large head of green cabbage
1 pineapple
1-2 cups trail mix of your choice. No M&Ms, please.
Mayonnaise
Apple Cider vinegar
Salt
Pepper

Chop the cabbage up into strips no wider that 1/3rd inch. Set aside. Trim and peel pineapple, chop coarsely, then put it in a blender / food processor just for a few seconds. It’s cool if there are chunks. Put pineapple and cabbage in a large bowl and mix. Slaw dressing is basically Mayo and vinegar, so find a proportion that works for you and grind some fresh pepper into it. Keep in mind that there will be plenty of acidic liquid provided by that pineapple. Salt optional. Combine. Mix. Reserve the trail mix until ready to serve, then mix it in too.

After the pulled pork has cooked for a day or so go get some structurally sound buns and pile them up with these two.

Everyone’s path to their own personal Barbeque Sauce is a little different. Don’t be afraid of the dark side, or Stubbs Liquid Smoke. Regular meetings with like-minded people form a vital support mechanism for those pursuing their own personal Barbeque Sauce, and will certainly help you through the inevitable moments of doubt about the role of Barbeque Sauce in the world and your life. Don’t be afraid to disagree about the nature of Barbeque Sauce, but respect the tastes of others and remember that no individual manifestation can ever fulfill all of the potential or embody all of the possibilities of Barbeque Sauce.

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From Dish Danielle:

Beignets have always been something I was afraid of tackling, especially when there were going to be 25 hungry dinner guests in my living room. I’ve ‘helped’ make them once before—i.e.: my friend pretty much took over the whole shebang as I simply taste tested and watched with awe and delight. That was about a year ago…

As we were planning our menu for the last Whisk & Ladle supper, I decided I was ready to face the challenge myself this year. As a dessert without ice cream (a W&L dessert course standby), and one that cannot be completely readied in advance, it was a serious undertaking.

Making them on the fly is imperative; the scent of frying dough wafting through your home, permeating the air and providing the anticipation of their delivery on pretty dessert plates… Half the fun of making beignets is making them fresh. Frying them off live, rushing to get them to just the perfect golden brown crispiness, hurriedly dusting them with confectioners sugar, and quickly running them out to the guests before they cool completely. They’re gone in a fraction of the time it takes to make them, but they’ll definitely stand out as a bold finish to any dinner party gathering.

To tackle this endeavor, I called in some reinforcements: Mantra, the Rules of Indulgence, a wonderfully inspiring dessert cookbook by Jahangir Mahta, as well as fellow dish and dessert compatriot, Amelia. (Okay shoot. Perhaps I didn’t really do it myself this year…) I pretty much stuck right to Mehta’s recipe, though I composed the dessert with the addition of a simple pear compote* for the doughnuts to sit upon, and a caramel whipped cream** to quenelle on the side.

This recipe will serve 6, as opposed to the 24 that I served for the W&L supper.
Beignet Ingredients:
1 tbsp baking powder
1 ½ c bread flour
pinch kosher salt
1 medium egg
1 cup Guinness stout
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp cardamom
1 qt grapeseed oil, for frying
5 Pears, peeled and diced small

Sift baking powder, flour, salt, and cardamom into large bowl. In medium bowl, whisk egg, stout, and orange zest. (I did this part ahead of time to save myself some trouble during the dinner…) Slowly pour the liquid into the flour mixture and whisk until it forms a smooth paste. Fold in the diced pears and await fryin’ time…

In deep heavy pot, (I recommend a cast iron if you have one), heat the grapeseed oil over medium flame until the oil reaches about 350 degrees. Use a spoon to scoop up the batter and drop them into hot oil. I didn’t attempt trying to make them all perfectly round and uniform, rather, I preferred the free-form look and just let the gooey clumps take on lives of their own. Continue to fry them off in batches until they reach a medium golden brown. Allow to drain on paper towels.

Once you’re all set to serve dust them liberally with confectioners sugar (add a dash cinnamon and ginger if you’re feeling it).

Serve and indulge!

Bonus garnishes:

*To make pear compote: peel and dice a handful or two of pears and toss into pan with a bit of melted butter over medium flame. Cook down, stirring frequently, adding small handfuls of sugar one at a time; taste as you go. Continue for about 20 minutes and you’ll have a nice gooey pile of compote to poise your beautiful beignets on.

**To make caramel whipped cream: either A) ask dish Amelia to take care of it (which was what I did…), or B) melt ½ c sugar in a pan nice n’ slow. Simultaneously heat 3 cups of cream until warm. Once sugar is melted and doing magical caramel thing, slowly add warmed milk. Whisk to incorporate. The caramel may seize up. Keep at it with a gentle heat– it’ll eventually come together. Cool with ice bath and set in fridge until just before service. Whip with a stand or hand mixer once cooled and serve aside your delectable dessert!

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From Dish Gwen:

I work at a pizza place, and although I no longer spend my days toiling away in the kitchen, I still eat my fair share of pizza. The pizza is delicious, and it’s a free lunch, but it still gets old and sometimes what I need is to eat anti-pizza. That means a meal that has no bread, red sauce or cheese. So here it is.

My Spicy Side of Meatball, Christopher, recently signed the two of us up for a meat CSA through 8 O’Clock Ranch. This means that we get a monthly delivery of beef, pork and lamb through the mail, and it means that I have been forced to learn how to cook a variety of cuts of meat that I have never encountered before. Tonight I made sirloin steak, which is actually pretty easy to make, and really delicious when smothered with garlicy chimichurri sauce.

Ingredients (For Four)

Tasty Rice
– 2 cups white rice
– 4 cups water
– ½ medium white onion, chopped
– salt
– olive oil
On medium heat, warm up a couple of table spoons of olive oil in a pot and toss in the onion. Once the onion starts to brown, add the uncooked rice and cook it until it browns slightly. Add the water and a dash of salt, bring the pot to a boil, then stir the mixture, turn the heat down to low and cover. Once the rice has soaked up all the water (10-15 mins), turn off the heat and keep the rice covered.

Green Vegetables: Steam or Sear (or both!)
You can steam or grill pretty much any green vegetable, and with the addition of a little oil and salt you’re sure to end up with a tasty, healthy meal. Tonight I made steamed bok choy and grilled zucchini.

Bok Choy:
Take a large head of bok choy, rinse it and chop it into 1 to 2 inch chunks. Heat up a sauce pan on medium with about a quarter cup of water, and add the bok choy and cover the pan. It will only take 5 to 10 minutes to steam down – the leaves will get tender and their color should be a bright, vibrant green. Lightly salt and drizzle some oil on top, then serve.

Zucchini:

Chop up two zucchinis into 1 inch pieces, and heat up a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. Once the oil is sizzling hot (throw in a piece of zucchini and listen for that “hiss” noise), put in all the zucchini and let it fry. You want to get a brown color, so let the vegetables sit for a minute or two before stirring. Toss the zucchini a few times, but also let it sit for a little while to let it brown. Once the vegetables are browned on all sides, toss in a pinch of salt and turn off the heat.

Steak and Chimichurri
Chimichurri sauce is like pesto, except instead of basil you’re using parsley. It’s a traditional Argentine steak sauce, and it adds a flavorful punch and a splash of green to any dish.

Chimichurri:

– ¼ cup garlic, chopped
– ¼ cup onion, chopped
– ¼ cup olive oil
– ½ cup parsley, loosely chopped
– 1 teaspoon salt
Put all of the above into a food processor, and grind it up until it’s a smooth, green, creamy sauce.

Seared Sirloin:
Take a pound of sirloin and rub it down with lots of salt and pepper (about ½ tablespoon of each). Heat up a frying pan on medium-high heat and coat the pan with olive oil. Once the pan is sizzling hot, lay the steak and let it sear (don’t touch it!) for about three minutes. Grab the pan by the handle and give it a shake – if the steak slides around freely, flip it. Sear the other side (you want to get a nice dark brown color on both sides) and remove from the pan, letting it rest on a cutting board for a few minutes. Slice up the meat into strips and serve with a dollop of chimichurri.

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From Dish Paige!:

Sometimes after putting in a long day of good work, I like to come home and try to make something that seems impossible. Yesterday, I came across this post from the Amateur Gourmet about his attempt to make matzoh, and I thought to myself “YES, The Bread of Affliction. I must try this. And no offense, but I bet I can do it better ;)” Yes, I think with emoticons sometimes, sue me.

Note: You’ll absolutely need a cast iron skillet for this, so if you don’t have one (like me), I suggest borrowing one (thanks, John!) and then inviting over the person you borrowed it from to help you break bread.

Ingredients:
1 to 1 1/4 cups flour (plus more for rolling out the dough)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt but Kosher salt would I guess be more apropos)
olive oil

Directions:
In the bowl of a standing mixer, start with 1 cup of flour and add the water and salt. With the dough hook attachment, mix the ingredients on medium speed for about ten minutes. The dough should start to come together into a ball. After ten minutes if the dough still looks sticky, add more flour until it reaches a smooth consistency and is no longer sticky.

Remove the dough from the hook and gently knead it into a smooth ball. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces.

Roll out each piece of dough (a silicone mat will be your best friend for this step of the process) as thin as possible into about a 5 inch circle. Prick the dough all over with a fork, and brush both sides with olive oil.

Repeat the process. I stacked each piece of matzoh on top of each other with pieces of wax paper in between so they wouldn’t stick together.

After you’re done rolling out all of the dough, heat up the cast iron skillet. Lightly sprinkle the matzoh with salt and place in the pan. Once golden brown, flip the matzoh and cook on the other side. This is a pretty fast process – so keep an eye on your bread so it doesn’t burn. Repeat with each piece of dough.

I’m telling you, this will be the best matzoh you’ll ever have. Some pieces will be crispy, some slightly chewy, some both, but all of them will be delicious.

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