30 April 2012

What We're Eating

We are moving in approximately 5 weeks and I have entered the full-scale pack-out mode. In the past week and a half I have roasted three chickens, which is clearly a sign of my mind being elsewhere - roast chicken + seasonal vegetable + rice is one of my easiest fall back meals.

So as we busy ourselves with packing up the house I may be doing more of these quick snapshot posts of delicious things we come across. Luckily we still have our pots and pans for the next few weeks.

Kale Pesto
Blanch kale for 1 minute in boiling water, drain, and substitute for basil in your favorite pesto recipe (we made ours with walnuts, parmesan, lemon zest, and olive oil). I found this needs more salt than regular pesto so season to taste. Great on pasta and also spread on crackers as a snack.

Mango Salad
Diced fresh mango, unsweetened dried coconut, chopped scallions (green parts only), toasted cashews or peanuts, lime juice, salt. Seriously tasty and great alongside grilled chicken or anything spicy.

freekiah with cheese and mushrooms
Freekiah with Mushrooms and Cheese
Cook freekiah (toasted green wheat) just as you would risotto. Finish with a handful of shredded cheese. Top with sauteed mushrooms. This is my attempt to replicate something I had in Jordan once - if you're Jordanian and have a better recipe for freekiah bi jibne please let me know!

Ginger Cookies from Good to The Grain
As we discussed previously, this cookbook is awesome, and it hasn't failed me yet. Better yet, the recipes -all made with whole grains- just taste like delicious baked goods, no icky health food vibe to them at all. This may be one of my favorite baking books since (the tragically out-of-print) The Last Course. We recently made the honey-amaranth-flax waffle/pancake recipe, which is killer. Just go buy the book people.


18 April 2012

Chocolate Chip (aka Crack) Cookies


It is possible that Paul and I actually fought over these cookies. As in, my having having a minor hyperventillation after Paul took about the umpteenth cookie out of the box one afternoon. I just can't keep up with his cookie consumption.

The main reason for this is that these cookies are seriously addictive. I know everyone says that about food these days, but in all reality, after finishing one of these cookies, it's possible you may have an intense, strong craving to eat another. And another. This is largely due to the perfect salty versus sweet battle that goes on in the middle of the cookie. Like I said, addictive.

It may surprise you to find out that these cookies are made with whole wheat flour. The recipe comes from the cookbook Good to the Grain, which, as I was recently packing up our cookbooks, was immediately placed in the "take with us" pile. It's pretty awesome. But when I was making these cookies, I figured the whole wheat flour would have added a sort of goodness, a sort of oatmeal-chocolate-chip-ness to the cookies. It didn't. These taste like straight-up good, delicious, from you best local bakery chocolate chip cookies. You'd never guess there was whole wheat in them. In fact, you're going to be too busy eating them to even bother contemplating the ingredients.

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
I scooped mine with an ice cream scoop which made very big, if absolutely awesome, cookies. You want to scoop them into round balls about an inch in diameter. Don't skip the chilling step, it's essential.

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped with a knife

1. Mix whole wheat flower, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
2. Place butter in a large bowl, add in both sugars. Cream the butter with the sugar until light, fluffy, and combined, using either a fork or an electric mixer. Add in the eggs and the vanilla until well combined. Slowly stir in the flour mixture until incorporated, then fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour. The dough can chill for up to 48 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
5. Scoop cookie dough out with a large spoon or small ice cream scoop. Place balls onto cookie sheets a couple inches apart. Bake 16-18 minutes - they will still be a bit soft on top. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

14 April 2012

Easy Weeknight Dinner


-- Bulgur Salad with Ramps, Cilantro, and Pecans
-- Roast Beets with Orange Dressing
-- Black Bean Cakes (pictured before frying)

Here's an easy weeknight dinner we made recently that makes good use of those early spring ramps. Just slice the ramps (white and green parts) and saute until softened and use in a grain salad. Our market hasn't yet had asparagus or artichokes or morels or any of those harbingers of spring, but ramps at least are here.

For salad: cooked bulgur, sauteed ramps, chopped cilantro (could also use parsley), sliced scallions (light and dark green parts), toasted pecans or almonds, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper

For beets: roast and peel with beets, toss with olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, and salt

For black bean cakes: one drained can of black beans - mash the beans with a fork, mix in one egg white, a handful of panko breadcrumbs, season with salt, Aleppo pepper, diced cilantro. Form into cakes- if you have time, refrigerate the cakes to firm up. Pan fry in vegetable oil until crispy on both sides. Tasty with a yogurt dipping sauce.

12 April 2012

Paul's Easter Challah


Paul's Easter Challah - we used the challah recipe from Peter Reinhart's bread book and we found that it was too dry. So no recipe for today, but I thought it was pretty to share.

In the future, I would have mixed the food coloring into the liquid mixture when making the bread (in this case the liquid mixture was eggs + water + oil). We tried to knead the food coloring into the dough after it was formed and it didn't quite distribute evenly.

05 April 2012

Sous Vide Salmon with Dukkah

spiced sous-vide salmon

In keeping with last week's theme of "things I don't usually make," molecular gastronomy, or anything that involves clouds of vapors swirling throughout my kitchen, also falls in this category. So when the NYTimes ran an article on Nathan Myhrvold's six volume tome on Modernist Cuisine, I was skeptical. Plus, I'm an Apple girl, not Windows.

Anyway, the Times feature was surprisingly approachable, the salmon looked delicious and called for nothing more than a thermometer by way of gadgets. Basically what you do is place the salmon fillets in ziplock bags and place them in a bath of very hot tap water. The weight of the water creates a vacuum seal in the bags, and the salmon cannot over cook since it will never go above the temperature of the water. To finish it off, you very quickly sear the salmon in some spice butter for flavor (you want to get a bit of crisp on the outside but be sure not to cook the inside any further).

The salmon is amazing - nothing like that over cooked baked salmon that smells up your house, and it has become my go-to technique for salmon at home. The spice butter can really be anything you'd like - I bet a curry mixture or a Moroccan tagine spice mix or za'atar would be great. But for this one I chose dukkah, which is an Egyptian spice blend based on hazlenuts, coriander, and pepper. Dukkah can be used for all sorts of things, from a dipping sauce to a crust for beef, but it is definitely for the coriander lover. But play around with the spice blend to your taste, making salmon with hot tap water was never easier.

sous-vide salmon

Sous Vide Salmon with Dukkah
The quantity of salmon here doesn't really matter- use as many or as few sliced fillet pieces as you like. Adapted from the New York Times.

salmon fillet, sliced about 2 inches thick, as many as you want to serve
olive oil, salt, pepper

for dukkah:

2 ounces, 1/2 cup hazelnuts
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper berries
1 teaspoon salt

for finishing:
8 tablespoons butter

1. For dukkah: toast hazelnuts in a dry skillet. Add to a food processor with the remaining ingredients and process until coarsely ground. This can also be done in a mortar and pestle but I find the peppercorns don't break up as well that way.

2. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Place a large pot in your sink, and add warm water until the pot is full and the water reaches 115 degrees. Place two fillets side by side in a gallon-size heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Drizzle fillets with oil. Submerge the bags halfway into the warm water (this creates a vacuum). Seal as airtight as possible, pushing out any excess air. Repeat with the remaining fillets.

3. Once all the salmon fillets are submerged in the pot, add more hot water until the water temperature returns to 115 degrees (the cold fish will reduce the water temperature). Let the salmon rest in the water bath about 20 to 25 minutes. Check the water temperature occasionally and add more hot water as needed to maintain the temperature of 115 degrees. (If you want to check, the salmon's internal temperature should reach 113 degrees, but I didn't find it necessary to check).

4. Remove fish from plastic bags and peel off skin.

5. Melt the 8 tablespoons butter in a skillet and add in the dukkah mixture. Make sure your pan is nice and hot before adding the salmon (the butter will be bubbling). Saute in the salmon fillets on both side, basting with spice butter the whole time, about 30 seconds each side. Serve immediately.