Archive for May, 2012

From Dish Nicole:

Tis the season to B-B-Q! Every spring I get sooooo excited to move my kitchen outside and cook and dine al fresco. The grilling gods have been very kind to me and I have always been given or loaned a grill, oddly enough. My last apartment had a backyard and my landlord let us use his gas grill for the 3 years I lived there. I got used to the convenience of just turning on the gas and grilling away. When I moved into my current apartment my boyfriend and I were very pleased to find that the previous tenants left us a relatively new charcoal grill on the porch (they even left most of the grilling accessories). Score! The only problem with the charcoal grill is that I had never used one so the boyfriend has come in rather handy and has been giving me grilling tutorials. One of the benefits of charcoal is that the food actually tastes the way grilled food should taste, slightly smoky. I went out and purchased a grill pan so I could take the grilling even further and add more delicate items to the old Webber, e.g.: fish and veggies. The grill pan is a MUST otherwise you will lose most of the food into the smoldering coals.

To keep things interesting throughout the grilling season we have a lot of fun experimenting with sauces and marinades. Zeke’s mom recently passed along a walnut sauce recipe that we love. Its light, savory and the walnuts add a really nice texture. Not only that, it’s tasty on salads, chicken, you name it. Another added bonus to sauces is that they can be made ahead of time and thrown on to spice up a quick dinner.

Here is what you need to make the salmon, asparagus and walnut sauce:

Salmon filets with the skin on
1 bunch of asparagus rinsed & dried
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbs olive oil

Walnut Sauce:
1 c. walnuts chopped
3/4 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 c. EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbs chopped, pitted Mediterranean-style black olives
1 Tbs capers, rinsed and chopped

Start out by making your walnut sauce. I prepared the walnut sauce a day ahead of time but you can make it right before serving as well. I like the way it tastes after the flavors have had a chance to infuse into the oil. All you have to do is prep your ingredients and then mix together. Boom, you’re done.

Next prepare your grill. Rub the salmon filets with olive oil to prevent sticking and lightly salt and pepper then set aside. Next, prepare the asparagus by cutting off the bottom where the green color fades. You will also want to lightly coat the asparagus with oil, salt and pepper. Once the coals are ready you can add the grill pan to the grill and add the salmon filets. Start with the salmon skin side up on the pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes per side. The salmon will continue to cook once you remove it from the heat. Add the asparagus to the grill pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until tender.

You can remove the salmon skin before serving (I prefer it that way). Add the sauce to both the veggies and salmon and dig in! I think grilled food is best served outside with a glass of chilled wine, but that’s just me. I wouldn’t call myself a grill master just yet but I plan to take the title by the end of summer.

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From Dish Jodi:

While the main purpose of this blog is to share great recipes, it’s also, over the years become a place documenting amazing events in the lives of the Dishes. Babies, new jobs, a handful of weddings, I hope our readers feel like they are getting snippets of our lives as well as yummy tips for dinner.

This recipe isn’t necessarily one of those great recipes, in fact it didn’t even turn out. It should have but of course, those life events sometimes get in the way.

Here’s the story – My husband and I, in efforts to fully become adults, just bought a duplex in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles. It’s been intense – first finding tenants to live in the rental half – then organizing the remodel of our half. Because of timing, money, etc, we had to move into our new house weeks before it was finished – new floors, paint, trim, lights, oh, and a totally new kitchen. (Starting to document it at soweboughtaduplex.blogspot.com). We lived like we were in a hotel – just out of our master bedroom and bathroom while the contractor and his team finished up the place. All the eating out was hard not only on our pocketbooks, but also our waistlines and so a lot of our meals were done camping style – on the grill outside, on paper plates, washing any dishes in the spigot outside. We decide to go a little fancy one night – we deserved some sort of dessert treat – so we devised this simple cobbler for the grill. Disposable pan, very little prep, no need for too many tools. However, moving, more grilling then usual, and forgetfulness got in the way. As I went to check the cobbler for its final stage, I found the grill cold and the cobbler un-cobbled.

We, of course, ate it anyway. You won’t have to. This is good for the grill, and probably could work over a campfire.

Stay tuned for next month, when you guys won’t have to stare at the top of my dryer or my green walls – THE NEW KITCHEN WILL BE DONE!

2 bags of frozen berries
1/2 Cup of Flour, divided
nutmeg, cinnamon or other spices if accessible.
Half a box of Graham Crackers
2/3 C Butter
a small foil baking pan
heavy duty grilling foil

Heat up your grill. Toss the berries with 1/4 cup of the flour and spices in the foil pan until coated. Cover tightly with heavy duty foil and put on the grill over indirect heat. I put it on the TOP rack of my gas grill while I cooked the rest of our dinner. Leave it there for half hour or so, let the berries get nice and stewed.

Meanwhile, crush up the graham crackers into crumbs and mash them in with the butter and 1/4 C of flour until you have a nice wet sand. After the berries are gooey, hot and bursting, remove the top foil, sprinkle the top of the cobbler with the graham cracker mixture and return to the grill, UNCOVERED.

If you aren’t like me, the top should get nice and crispy. Leave it there for about another half an hour, or until crispy enough, and enjoy!!

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From Dish Rachelle:

I’m not going to lie, this has been a very exciting – and anxiety-provoking – time (two sides of the same coin, at least for me). My first book comes out THIS TUESDAY and it’s the culmination of many years of hard work. Writing is a solitary process and over these past few weeks, the onslaught of reviews and write-ups has forced me to confront the thrilling and sometimes terrifying reality that the book has passed through my hands and is now public property. It’s a dream-outcome as well as a big adjustment. And what does this have to do with food? Well, in many ways this feels like a transitional moment in my life, when uncertainty rules, and homey touchstones are keeping me sane. So, cooking some Asian-style comfort food and goofing off in the kitchen with my husband is basically perfection.

For the shrimp (serves 2):
16 40 count uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (adjust portion size if shrimp is bigger/smaller)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. miso paste
1 tbsp. soy sauce
a splash of mirin

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl with clean, fresh shrimp (I used to my hands). When ingredients are evenly distributed, cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, until ready to grill.

Meanwhile, start the risotto:

3/4 cup arborio rice
Olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1- 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped
2 qts. chicken or vegetable stock (you won’t use all of it but good to have it handy)
1/4 dry white wine
Greens of two scallions, chopped
1-2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup peas, fresh or frozen

Dish Danielle has given us some great instructions for preparing risotto. Basically, it needs to be coddled. Heat some olive oil in a large, flat bottomed saucepan and saute onions, garlic and ginger with a pinch of salt to prevent browning. In a separate saucepan, heat a quart of stock and keep a ladle handy. Add risotto rice to the onion mixture and stir to combine, 1-2 minutes. Start ladling warm stock over the rice, a few ladles at a time, and stir frequently, watching the rice expand. Add the white wine and get a little tipsy off the fumes. When the risotto begins to dry, add more stock – if you finish the first quart, you know where to find more. Continue 30-45 minutes until rice is cooked to al dente. Stir in scallions, lemon zest and peas and keep over heat until everything’s warmed through. Season to taste.

Spray a grill pan with cooking spray (if you don’t have a grill pan, but are lucky enough to have access to a real grill, feel free to use it. You can also cook the shrimp in a frying pan, you just won’t get the nice little grill marks.) Arrange shrimp in a single layer and cook, about a minute and half per side, until they’re pink all the way through.

If you’d like to serve this dish with asparagus – or any other green vegetable – steam it while you’re cooking the shrimp. For extra points, use a particularly fat asparagus stalk as a microphone.

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From Dish Paige!:

The first time I ever made Red Velvet cake, I brought it to a party and someone asked me if I used red food coloring or did it THE REAL WAY. Of course, like 99% of Americans, I made it with red food coloring and had no idea what THE REAL WAY even meant, but at that moment, 5 years ago, I vowed to avoid making or consuming Red Velvet ever again. Not because I have any particular concerns about red food coloring (I am convinced that red M&Ms taste different and better than the rest), but more so because I have concerns about prying questions from jerky people. In any case, that conversation obviously stuck in my craw and I finally had an opportunity to exorcise that particular demon last week when my Intro to Culinary class had Roots and Tubers day. THE REAL WAY, you see, uses beets to get that rich color.


For the cake
3/4 cup beet puree (about 4 small beets)
1 T lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
1 cup sugar
8 T butter
3/4 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 T cocoa powder

For the frosting
10 oz goat cheese (room temp)
8 oz cream cheese (room temp)
2 oz butter (room temp)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the beets in a baking dish with about 1/2 inch of water, cover the dish with parchment and then aluminum foil and roast until the beets are tender – about 45 minutes. Once the beets are done and cooled down a bit, peel them with a pairing knife and then give them a whir in the food processor, blending until smooth. Add in the lemon juice and vinegar and set aside.

Lower the heat to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl (or your standing mixer), cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. add in the vanilla and butter milk and mix until combined. Next, add the eggs and mix again. Fold in the beat puree. Finally, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into cupcake tins and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until a just set. Let the cupcakes cool before frosting.

To make the frosting combine the ingredients and mix until combined and smooth.

(original recipe for the cupcakes found here)

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From Dish Gwen:

The other night my cupboards were looking pretty bare, and cereal for dinner wasn’t really appealing to me, so I had to get a little creative. Using a can of black beans, some corn meal, eggs and a handful of salad greens I was able to pull together a rather fancy little dish that hit the spot and was healthy to boot. I think I’ll probably make it again.

– 1 can black beans
– 2 cups corn meal (or dry polenta)
– ½ cup shredded parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese
– 2 eggs
– a handful of salad greens
– 4 radishes
– 2 scallions
– olive oil
– apple cider vinegar
– salt
– pepper

Stew up the beans with some salt and pepper to taste and keep them on warm on the back burner. In a sauce pan, boil 6 cups of salted water, then sprinkle in the polenta while whisking – make sure to whisk thoroughly because otherwise you’ll get lumps. Once the polenta is mixed in, turn the heat down to medium-low and use a spoon and stir until the it thickens. Check the polenta by tasting to see if it’s softened (if it’s grainy and tough you need to add more water and keep stirring until it softens up – this can take about ½ hour).

Grease a square brownie pan or small cookie sheet with butter, then pour out the polenta into it and smooth it over with a rubber spatula to create a flat cake. Cool the polenta in the fridge for an hour so that it firms up, then sprinkle parmesan or Romano cheese evenly across the top and put the pan in the broiler on high to melt and brown the cheese. Once it looks nice and brown take it out and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Slice the cake of polenta into 3 or 4 inch wide squares. (instead of broiling you can also fry polenta cakes! Try it!)

Dice up the radishes and scallions and toss them in a large bowl with the salad greens and a table spoon of olive oil and apple cider vinegar, plus a dash of salt and pepper. Fry two eggs and plate them on top of the dish, with the beans on the bottom, then the polenta cake, then the egg, then the salad mix on top (the plating of this dish is what takes it from random to gourmet). Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top and serve!

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From Dish Amelia:

I’ve been cooking for a family in the city recently that needs (among other things) fresh homemade chicken soup on tap. Meaning, I go in there twice a week and make chicken soup from scratch and now I can do it with my eyes closed. I mean, I knew how to make chicken soup, and stock, and green chile stew, and Mexican style chicken soup, and lemony Mediterranean chicken soup, etc, but now I feel like I can really bang out a chicken soup pretty good. There are a million ways to do it, and I do it a little different each time, but I felt like sharing it because its a staple we all need at some point, for illness, or comfort, or hunger, or memory. It’s healing, and it can get us through.

1 extremely high quality and cute whole chicken, 3 lbs (organic, free range, local)
1 bunch very skinny asparagus, cut in one inch pieces, at an angle
8 carrots (I like doing 4 normal carrots, and 4 Kyoto carrots. These are sometimes found at the farmers market and they are pink. PINK!)
1 small onion, quartered
1 bunch of celery, base cut off, stalks divided into two piles
half a bag of frozen peas (or 4 oz fresh peas)
1 bunch dill
some sliced mushrooms
a few cloves of garlic

Get a pot and bowl. With your awesome poultry shears that can cut anything, cut chicken into four pieces.

Pull off any skin you can and throw it out (some will remain). Wash the pieces and put them in the pot. You will divide your vegetables into the “Ugly” and the “Pretty”. The uglies will go directly the pot. The uglies are half of the celery, cut into large 2-3 inch pieces, the 4 regular carrots, cut into big pieces, the quartered onion, a few mushrooms if you want and a couple cloves of garlic. Cover all the chicken and uglies with water and add an inch or two more. Cover and put on medium low heat.

Prep your pretties: Thinly slice the kyoto carrots and remaining celery, and put in the bowl with peas and asparagus segments. Set aside.

Make five other dishes. To finish soup, check chicken by reaching in with tongs and grabbing the drumstick. If the bone slips right out, you are ready to rock and roll. Pull out al the chicken with the tongs and let them cool in a bowl. With a shallow perforated spoon lift out all the ugly vegetables, as they are through doing their beautiful work. Discard them. Lift out as many impurities as you can see.

When the chicken is cooked enough to barely handle, pull the good meat off the bones. I like doing this part and it reminds me of this scene in Amelie when the guy shows his grandson the “oyster” of a roast chicken. I discovered something I didn’t know about chicken anatomy while doing this. When you dissect it this way there is a perfect piece tucked up next to a shaft of cartilage in the breast that looks like a lobster claw or some dang thing. It makes me smile every time.

Put the chicken meat back in the pot, add the pretty vegetables, some dill, and a liberal amount of salt and pepper. Let it simmer a bit more until vegetables are tender but still bright green. If asparagus turns brownish you’ve gone too far. When soup is cool enough, chill in the fridge. Skim off any other fat or impurities you don’t want. Heat as needed. Drink the broth, pick out what you don’t like, add rice, ladle a little bowl or have some with a sandwich.

Whatever you want to do, it will help get you there.

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From Dish Erin:

I had the opportunity to go to Istanbul recently, an item on the bucket list I’ve been wanting to check off for a long time. Yes, it’s rich with history, yes it’s exotic, yes I had a blast. But most of all, I ate my way through the capital of the former Ottoman Empire. And it was delicious. One of our favorite dishes was Iskender Kebab, aka lamb kebab with savory yogurt sauce, spicy tomato sauce and unctuous pieces of toasted pita bread. It’s spicy, savory, and full of texture and though I ate it about 10 times in 5 days, the moment I got back to the states I tried to recreate it in my American kitchen. Fun fact: the name of the dish comes from Alexander the Great, whom the Persians called “Iskender.”

The actual Iskender Kebab is made on a spit and slow roasted for 2 full days, so I took a necessary shortcut and grilled it instead.

1 yellow onion
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon
2 cloves garlic
Blend of spices: paprika, cumin, ground coriander, a touch of cinnamon and turmeric (optional)
3/4-1 lb top round lamb cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup Greek-style natural yogurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons water or chicken stock
1 baguette sliced into 1 inch cubes
2 long fresh green chillies

Puree the onion, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of oil and spice mixture in a food processor. In a bowl, pour over lamb and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to marinate.

Combine the yogurt and half the garlic, another tablespoon of lemon juice, and a touch of S&P in a small bowl. Cover and place in the fridge.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until soft. Add the paprika and chilli and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the tomato sauce and water and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place pieces of bread in a bowl and pour a little olive oil over, then season with salt & pepper. Toss to coat. Place on a pan and bake until crispy on outside, but soft in the middle, about 6-7 minutes.

Remove the lamb from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Thread the lamb onto 4 skewers.

Preheat a barbecue or large grill pan on high. Add the lamb and cook, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. When the lamb is about halfway done add the 2 large chilis to the pan and roast, turning every few minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.

Divide the bread and chillies evenly among serving plates. Remove lamb from skewers and place on top of bread. Dress with even amounts of yogurt and spicy tomato sauce.

Afiyet olsun! (Bon Appetit!)

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