flit: (Default)
2009-08-19 12:10 am
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I'm still playing catchup on some of the other recipes I wanted to post.

Today I was very crashy for much of the day, and it was too hot to cook what I wanted to cook anyhow. So I started cooking bizarrely late, but I really like how it all came out. Now I am exhausted but not sleepy so I thought I'd jot it down.

1) Roasted chioggia beets with fennel, onion, and fresh rosemary. (Just a little coconut oil spray in the pan, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Added the pepper after it came out.) The key here was the fresh rosemary; I actually pulled the stems out after roasting it, but then realized that the crumbly leaves were delicious little flavor bombs and the texture wasn't bad because they hadn't gotten tough or sharp, so put the leaves back in. Chioggia beets lose some of their drama from the white and bright pink bulls eyes when roasted, but they get delightfully sweet.

2) Three cloves of elephant garlic that I had leftover. Simply roasted; I spread this on crackers later and ate it with the roasted tomato sauce, like bruschetta. I haven't roasted elephant garlic before and I think the roasting helps with some of the slightly odd vegetal aftertaste of it. I like it that way and raw, but not as well cooked other ways.

3) Italian black paste tomatoes, halved, placed in a pan with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, then crushed garlic (I used the Korean hot garlic), then overtopped with several handfuls of shredded basil. After these were done roasting into a reduced and somewhat caramelized mess I ran them through a food processor. (Actually the mini one that goes with my stick blender, which is a lot easier to use and clean than the big one, which I may be getting rid of since I hate using it.)

4) Soup made from a bunch of dandelion greens, two Japanese sweet potatoes, an onion, and the leftover basil (a quarter to a third of the bunch). I wanted to add some thyme to complement the basil but we were totally out so I used herbes de provence instead; possibly a kind of weird choice but I'll know tomorrow after it's had time for the flavors to meld. This is likely too bitter for Brad but I like bitter greens a lot so I'll eat it up and freeze some for later. This might even make a decent cold soup. I ran the stick blender over it for a coarse puree.

We also still have some of the lamb and bean stew (which came out really well; I'm really grooving on the bean + meat + slow cooking thing), and a whole bunch of dal, which I snuck some Mayan squash into. So I've got a pretty good track record on cooking so far this week!
flit: (lunch)
2009-08-14 03:03 pm
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Steamed Fish on Chard

Sablefish and Chard and Basil More in the fish series....

This one used a different cooking method, steaming, as outlined in this lovely little minimalist recipe by Mark Bittman: Steamed Fish on Kale. This is beautiful because you get a side dish and a main dish all out of one pan.

I used a variant of chard (Italian chard?) that was almost as tender as spinach, so adjusted cooking times accordingly. I also added some basil to the mix. The delicate flesh of the sablefish lends itself really well to steaming; it's less prone to come apart while cooking if this method is used. This was very sumptuous even though I greatly reduced the oil/butter, given the high fat content of the sablefish.

Upcoming: the fresh sardine recipe.
flit: (lunch)
2009-08-14 02:53 pm
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Salmon with Blood Orange Sauce

Salmon with Blood Orange Sauce and Mesclun Salad At least I am pretty sure this was salmon and not a big trout.... This was a case of "fish that looked good in the store" combined with "what I have on hand that goes with it." It's another dead-simple preparation with browning the seasoned filet and then making a pan sauce to pour over the fish.

In this case I used the juice from a blood orange, thyme, and undoubtedly some kind of wine: vermouth, sherry, or white wine, whatever I had on hand. I likely used garlic as well.

The nice thing about pan reductions is they're infinitely variable and incredibly easy. You can have a composed meal ready in 10-15 minutes, a bit longer if you have anything fussy to chop first. They use the caramelized bits of whatever you were cooking in the pan, so you get layered flavors.
flit: (lunch)
2009-08-14 11:53 am
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Sablefish with Balsamic Vinegar and Strawberries

Sablefish with Strawberries I've wanted to make this recipe for some time now but didn't quite get there. I did this on a night where taking the extra steps to make a separate sauce and the butter searing paste, both of which look delicious, just didn't seem doable.

Sablefish, AKA black cod, is one of the reasonably sustainable options available locally; the fishery isn't as good as the one in the Pacific Northwest yet, but they're improving. However I later found out that it is a *very* fatty fish; it's also called butterfish for a reason! For that reason it won't be showing up much on my menus until I'm no longer trying to lose weight. In flavor it's not as oily as you'd think, not even as oily as mackerel or salmon. It has a flavor that manages to be both light and rich. In texture it's more delicate than many fish, which may be why it's not as popular; it tends to flake into small flakes very easily, which can look messy on a plate. I think the flavor makes up for the messiness. You can see the flake pattern if you look closely; I was careful not to cook it to the point of collapse.

I didn't keep strict notes on my method, but I probably just seasoned the filet and then browned it in a mixture of butter and olive oil until done. Removed the fish and made a pan sauce with balsamic vinegar, strawberries, red onions, and ... ahem... whatever that greenery is. Basil? Green onions? Either would work. Garnish with a few more fresh strawberries, and devour. The acid sweetness of the strawberries and vinegar is a nice contrast with this fish; I think it would be too much on a drier white fish like on tilapia.

I still want to try the base recipe some day! I think the extra steps would make it extra delicious.
flit: (lunch)
2009-08-14 09:34 am
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Poached Quail Eggs on (Gluten-Free) English Muffin

Quail Eggs Poached Quail Eggs on Gluten-Free English Muffins I wanted to do something fairly special with the little quail eggs I got to try out, so I decided to poach them and put them on a gluten-free English muffin. (The one I used was from Kinnikinnick.)

My poaching technique isn't very well-developed, and likely I shouldn't practice it on quail eggs. I lost a fair amount of their delicate little whites to the poaching water. What was left was nice with soft whites and just-runny yolks, but clearly I'm going to have to try poaching more using chicken eggs.

I used a good butter on the English muffins and seasoned with fresh chives, fresh ground black pepper, and sea salt. This was delicious, but as poaching the eggs was quite fussy, I don't think I'd try it again unless I improve my poaching technique first. The only thing going for it was that it was less fussy than soft-boiling them and then peeling them.
flit: (lunch)
2009-08-13 06:50 pm
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Baked Giant White Beans with Kielbasa

Kielbasa with Giant White Beans
This was an overnight baked recipe and very simple. It comes out fairly low-fat even using full-fat sausage.

* 2 1/4 cups dry giant white beans (or cannelini or any other white bean)
* 1tsp olive or other vegetable oil
* 1 12-oz kielbasa (I used a turkey kielbasa), sliced fairly thin
* 1 lg. onion, diced
* 2 ribs celery, diced
* 6 cloves garlic, crushed
* 1/2 tsp. smoked hot paprika
* 1/2 tsp. sweet hot paprika
* 4 cups good stock; I used homemade turkey stock
* 2 tsp dried thyme
* 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
* ground black pepper (and salt) to taste; may not need salt if you use packaged broth
* (opt) handful chopped parsley

Either soak the beans the night before in water that covers them by two inches, or use the fast-soak method: cover the beans by two inches with cold water, bring to a boil, boil for two minutes, cover the pan and let sit for one hour. Discard soaking liquid.

Pre-heat oven to 225.

In a dutch oven or other heavy oven-safe pan with an oven-safe lid, brown the sausage slices in the olive oil, then add the onions. When the onions go translucent add the garlic and celery and cook another minute or so. Add the stock and stir around the pan to dissolve the caramelization on the pan into the liquid. Add the beans and all herbs but fresh parsley.

Place into the oven at 225 for four hours, then reduce heat to 200 and let bake another six hours. (Or bake for 6 hours at 250.)

In the morning, stir in the parsley.

This would undoubtedly work just fine in a slow-cooker. You could also add tomato paste to it to get the sauce thicker. If you don't have smoked paprika, substitute in normal paprika; if you don't have hot paprika you can use half the amount as cayenne and half the amount as sweet. If you want to enhance the smoky flavor try Worcestershire sauce.

I based this very very loosely on cassoulet, but used paprika as a substitution for tomato paste, and omitted all of the meat and bread crumbs. I used various baked bean recipes to determine good cooking temperatures since I wanted to cook it overnight.

This had good flavor but the sauce was somewhat bland so I think next time I would add a little salt, possibly some tomato paste, wine, or gluten-free Worcestershire sauce, and double the paprika.
flit: (lunch)
2009-06-10 02:31 pm
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Random Black Bean Chili

I needed to use up some opened cans (black beans, diced tomatoes), so this happened. I didn't really measure ingredients, just added things randomly, so add stuff and taste to see if it's right. It came out strangely delicious which is why I'm recording it. I'll scale it up to full cans here because that's how people who are not living on my planet cook.

Vegetarian and easily adapted to be vegan (just leave out the cheese or use vegan cheese if you like it.)

Serves 2-3.

* 1 can black beans (I use Eden, which is very low sodium)
* 1 can Muir Glen Fire-Roasted No-Salt-Added Tomatoes, Diced (yes, very specific; if you can get these fire-roasted babies, I think they're the secret ingredient, because they have a delightful smoky flavor. Would be doable but not as good if you use others. I prefer to add salt in to recipes so I can control the amounts, but you can use normal canned tomatoes and not add as much extra salt.)
* 1 cup chopped onion
* enough water to almost cover or make this all loose; you'll lose some water in the simmering and it will become denser
* umm a bunch of cumin powder. I just knocked some in from the jar, probably at least a teaspoon and a half for this scaling.
* a teaspoon or so of hot paprika, which is the mild chile powder I have on hand; you can use chile powder but if you use a pre-made blend leave out some garlic powder (often in blends), cumin (often in blends), salt (often in blends). Check blend ingredients or just add to taste. If you can't get your hands on the fire-roasted tomatoes, try hot smoked Spanish paprika to impart the smokiness.
* half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of garlic powder, depending on taste. Or minced fresh garlic but I was lazy.
* something hot to punch it up; I used a little habanero hot sauce, but a chipotle or two, diced, or diced jalapeno would also be good. I was going for a mild buzz because I'm a wimp. Add as much as you like.
* scant 1/8th tsp. allspice because "it needed something from this neighborhood"
* 1/8th tsp. cinnamon, see allspice
* fresh ground black pepper, as much as you like
* salt to taste

Cook this at a fast simmer, stirring pretty often, for about 15 minutes, which should get the onions fully cooked. If they are still white it is not done yet. Since this is meatless it really doesn't need a hugely long cooking time. This is a quick easy meal. You can make it need less stirring by parking it on a low simmer for a longer time, probably total of 30 minutes.

To this I added small-dice fat-free cheddar cheese, which I had bought to see if it was good; it wasn't very. It claims that it melts and it lies. Lies! I simmered for another five minutes and it was still only half-melted. Scary! I think it acts this way because it is mostly whey, and untempered by fat or lactose I guess that means... rubber.

So it should be simmered for 20 minutes now. If you are adding real cheese in, don't put it in until serving unless you want it to be undifferentiated; I think part of the fun is biting into little chunks of cheese. You could top with chopped raw onions, green onions, lemon or lime juice, sour cream, guacamole, or whatever you like. Or just eat it as-is like I did.

Strangely, the fat-free cheese ended up tasting really good in this, for the first time ever. So now I know how to use up the rest of it!

The way I made it, it was almost fat-free. If you are trying *not* to eat lowfat, you can stir in some olive oil or top with sour cream or guacamole or just use cheese (or more cheese.)

I am having a crashy day so this recipe is certified fatigue-okay. Not as easy as popping packaged food into a microwave, but on the easy side for real food.
flit: (lunch)
2009-06-02 07:43 pm
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Vegetable Beef Stew

I acquired the ingredients but Brad cooked this according to my mumbled instructions from bed, as I was too crashy to do it myself. He did a great job regardless of my vagueness!

What I wanted was a beef stew that wasn't too heavy. Using lighter vegetables helped there. I omit carrots from my recipes because I'm allergic; there's no reason not to put them in if you like them.

We gave this a very low, long, cooking time because we used grass-fed beef in it. This beef is very lean and has a different fat profile than feedlot beef, and it can get tough quickly if cooked on high heat. We use a dutch oven for slow braises and it would be very suitable to a crockpot, especially if you have the kind that lets you brown foods on the stovetop first.


* 2lbs beef stew meat (any tough, reasonably lean, cut of meat is good)
* favorite cooking oil (we use grapeseed for high temperature)
* 2 onions, 1/2" diced
* 2-4 cloves garlic to taste, minced
* one-half to one small can tomato paste
* 2 fennel bulbs, 1/2" diced (use some greens if you want a pronounced anise flavor; omit if you want it more subtle)
* 3 small kohlrabi, 3/4" diced (use 2 turnips, 1 daikon, or 1 lg. rutabega if you can't find kohlrabi)
* 3 ronde de nice squash, 3/4" diced (or crookneck, patty pan, or small zucchini)
* 4-5 small red potatoes, quartered
* one normal-sized can fire roasted tomatoes, sliced (or normal canned tomatoes if you can't find that, or 4 1/2" diced fresh roma tomatoes)
* fresh thyme, four sprigs worth of leaves, or 3-4 pinches dry thyme
* bay leaf
* salt and pepper to taste
* red wine and vegetable broth, equal parts to cover


Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.

In a dutch oven, brown stew meat on all sides, then set aside.

Add 1Tbsp oil, onions, and some salt and cook onions until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute or so until the tomato paste darkens somewhat.

Put beef (and juices) back in and add remaining ingredients. Add equal parts red wine and vegetable broth until everything is barely covered with liquid. Bring to a simmer.

Cover, place in oven, and cook at 250 degrees for 2-3 hours or until the meat is fork-tender; you can test it at 2 hours or just leave it for 3; it holds up well to extra cooking time.

If you don't have an oven-safe vessel, you can cook it on the stovetop at a low simmer, covered, for probably 1.5-2 hours.
flit: (lunch)
2009-05-02 11:21 pm
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Easy Fast "Congee"

This is almost not a recipe at all, since it's so simple. However it's very nice to have some simple methods in the repertoire for days when complexity is overwhelming.

Given all of the recent attention to the flu, this recipe is even thematic, because it's possible to be cooked by a flu sufferer as long as they're not too confused and reasonably ambulatory. How do I know this? I made it while having a flareup. Safety tip: I do not recommend messing around with hot stoves if you *are* confused and feverish. But it would keep for a few days in the fridge, so you could make it up in advance and microwave portions.

This isn't really congee in that it doesn't have a long cooking time, doesn't use whole rice, and it plays fast and loose with the proportions. But it is close enough that it will fill the same niche (a simple and highly digestible gruel, excellent for sick people to eat) and can be made in under five minutes out of long-keeping ingredients that are easy to have on hand.

The basic ingredients:

* water (or chicken broth/stock, or other broth/stock of your choice)
* rice cereal; I use Arrowhead Mills brown rice cereal
* pinch salt if you're using water (optional)

Make this up but use only half to two thirds of the cereal directed on the package, depending on how thick you want it. This has microwave instructions and times given, but I have never made it in the microwave without covering the inside of the microwave with a layer of rice, so I make it on the stove. If you want it to be smoother you can cook it for longer, but this will be quite eatable in two minutes of simmering. You will end up with a thin gruel.

This is pretty bland, which might be exactly what you want if you're feeling sick. But you can add a lot of different things to it to make it less bland. The most obvious is to use some sort of broth for cooking it. Chicken broth is a mild anti-inflammatory and will probably make you feel better. Other anti-inflammatories that are also tasty flavorings include:

* a quarter teaspoon turmeric powder
* a dash of ginger juice or a pinch of powdered ginger (or minced fresh if you have the energy)
* small clove of garlic, minced or crushed, or garlic powder
* some hot pepper sauce
* a sliced green onion
* minced parsley or cilantro

Most of these are very easy additions requiring minimal work with a knife. You can add any or all to taste. I don't usually like garlic or ginger powder as much as the fresh ingredient, but they're nice to fall back on when chopping seems too difficult.

If you have a rice cooker with a porridge setting, you can also make rice porridge in that. It will take longer but be very easy.