Archive | January 2014

Roasted, Blanched, and Raw Beet Salad with Miso Dressing

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The New Yorker is a magazine my mother has had a subscription to (off and on) for well over a decade. It’s my personal favorite publication as it covers a wide array of topics and events and balances being informative and humorous (and I never mind getting them after she’s read them). Her last subscription ended about a year ago so for one of her Christmas gifts I got her a subscription.

If any of you have ever bought a magazine subscription online I’m sure you’re well aware there are a slew of other magazines you can purchase (at a huge discount) when you checkout. It’s like the grocery store; checkout aisles are always full of junk food, just tempting you to impulse purchase. While I try not to spend frivolously, I just couldn’t resist purchasing a year subscription to Bon Appetit for myself. It just seemed too good of a deal. After perusing the first issue I received, I quickly started a list of all of the dishes I wanted to make and decided the first dish to try would be their Beet Salad with Miso and Black Sesame.

The original recipe calls for a combination of wedges of roasted beet, thin slices of raw beet, mixed together with watercress. What made this salad interesting to me was that you got two very different textures from one ingredient. Wanting to take it a step further, I wanted to get three uses out of one ingredient, so in addition to using the beets, I used the beet greens.

For anyone that hasn’t used beet greens, you’re missing out. They have an earthy flavor and are almost reminiscent of spinach. They’re great sautéed, but equally nice when raw (if eating raw, I typically don’t eat the thicker ribs of the leaf, as I find them a bit fibrous). In addition to eating a delicious salad, I was also cutting down on waste as I used so many parts of one ingredient.

Roasted, Blanched, and Raw Beet Salad with Miso Dressing

Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 4 golden beets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup miso
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Juice of half a lime
  • A handful of mixed greens (I felt there weren’t enough beet greens, so I added extra mixed greens [spinach would also work nicely])
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub all beets, reserving greens. Take 3 beets, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and tightly wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until tender. Unwrap beets, let cool slightly, remove skin (I find rubbing with a paper towel is the easiest way of skinning cooked beets), and cut into wedges (approximately 8-10 wedges per beet).

Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Using a mandolin (or using a knife), slice the remaining beet as thinly as possible and blanche in boiling water for 45 seconds. I found thinly sliced raw beet to be a smidge tough, which is why I recommend blanching them. Drain and shock in incredibly cold tap water or ice water. This stops the cooking.

Whisk together miso, vinegar, lime juice, and 3 tablespoons of water. Gradually pour in remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, while whisking. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chop or tear beat greens into bite sized pieces and thoroughly rinse (they can be quite sandy) and pat dry with paper towels.

In a large bowl, mix together beet greens, additional mixed greens, roasted beets, and blanched beets. Pour on enough dressing to lightly coat the salad (I probably only used 1/3 to 1/2 of the dressing since I like very lightly dressed salads). Arrange on 4 individual plates (or one large platter) and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

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Prime Rib Chili

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#GOHAWKS!

What with Super Bowl just around the corner I got to thinking about my favorite game day foods. While pizza and wings (and beer) may be the first things people think of, chili is right up there. Who can resist a bowl of chili, topped with some sour cream and cheese? I know I can’t.

Seeing as I’m a Seattleite, I can’t help but be excited for the Seahawk’s second trip to the Super Bowl this coming Sunday. While ground beef is probably the most common meat found in chili, I thought something a little bit more special was in order, and the most logical thing seemed to be prime rib (because what else could be as decadent?). I was lucky enough to have about 2 pounds of leftover prime rib just screaming to be used, but if you don’t want to shell out the bucks, almost any cubed steak (or ground beef) would work as well. But really, the Super Bowl only happens once a year, so why not make it special?

What I love about this chili recipe (beyond cubes of tender prime rib) are the layers of flavor. You start with tasting savory tomato with an undertone of beer before ending with heat. This isn’t an alarmingly spicy chili, but it has a bit of a kick.

As far as ingredients, I used a spicy chili blend straight from New Mexico. I haven’t tested this with other chili powders, so use whatever you prefer. For the beer, I used an Amber Ale (from Hilliard’s, a Seattle brewery), but most ales should work. In fact, a lot of different beers would do well in this dish. I wouldn’t recommend a light, wheat beer as the flavors might get lost, but I would imagine most mid to dark ales (a brown ale perhaps) or even an IPA would work nicely (although I haven’t tried).

As far as the beans go, I’ve read a ton of different ways on how to cook them. Most recipes call for an overnight soak, and then instruct one to cook the beans separately. This method works perfectly, but I found cooking the beans in the chili also worked (although perhaps took longer). Lots of sources on the internet say the acid from the tomatoes prevent the beans from cooking, but I didn’t find that to be the case. In general, dried beans that have been in your kitchen cupboard or on the grocery store shelf for ages are harder to make tender (that is, they take longer), but newer dried beans are easier. If you’re worried about not fully cooking your beans, either cook separately or you could even use canned. That’s just my two cents on how to cook beans.

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Prime Rib Chili

  • 1 cup dried kidney beans (or beans of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, small dice
  • 1 red pepper, small dice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (from approximately 6-8 cloves of garlic)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 12-ounce (or pint) bottle beer
  • 2 pounds leftover prime rib, as much fat removed as possible, cut into 1/2 inch dice

The night before you make your chili, or at least 6 hours beforehand, place dry beans in a bowl with 4 cups of water, cover, and let sit at room temperature overnight.

Over medium heat, add olive oil to a large pot and let heat up. Once oil has heated, add in diced onion, bell pepper, salt, and pepper, and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables have developed a bit of golden brown color. Add in tomato paste, mix well, and cook for 2 minutes.

Creating a well in the pot (by moving vegetable mixture to the sides, add in the garlic, cocoa, and spices. With direct contact on the pot surface, the spices should “toast,” which will help release their flavor. Cook for 1 minute.

Stir in beer, broth, and diced tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, drain and rinse soaked beans, add to chili mixture, reduce heat, and simmer for approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until beans have softened and reached desired texture.

Add in prime rib chunks and cook for 5-10 additional minutes. The goal isn’t to cook the prime rib any more (since it has already been cooked), but to heat through. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and perhaps a few dashes of hot sauce (optional).

(If using cubes of steak, sear separately and add in the final 15 minutes of cooking, if using ground beef, brown in pot along with onions and cook with chili mixture.)

Broiled Tilapia with Mustard-Herb Sauce

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I remember the first time I made scallops. I went to Whole Paycheck… err, I mean Whole Foods, and picked out some huge, plump scallops that were impossibly fresh. The side dishes were coming together perfectly, I had made a delicate, lemony, wine sauce and things seemed to go flawlessly as I cooked the scallops. They had that crispy, golden brown crust that comes from searing scallops in copious amounts of butter and oil. Based on the appearance, I had made some winning scallops.

As I sat down to taste them I couldn’t help but be pleased with myself. I hardly ever cook seafood since I have this overwhelming fear that I’ll ruin it somehow. After all, fish can be rather finicky.

One bite into the dish and I was completely overwhelmed with emotion by what I had made.

…. Overwhelmed in a bad way. They were awful.

I’m not entirely sure what happened to the scallops but after spending a bit too much money on fish that turned out rubbery I decided I should try and work with cheaper proteins and master them first.

While tilapia is nowhere near the top of the list of my favorite fish, I’ve recently come to appreciate how reasonably priced it is and how easy it is to cook.  Simply drizzling some olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper, and throwing under the broiler results in an incredibly tender, flaky, moist fish. Add in a side of incredibly simple chive and mustard sauce and you have an entrée in less than 15 minutes.

Broiled Tilapia with Mustard-Herb Sauce

From Giada de Laurentiis

  • 4 (5 to 6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup plain, Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (plus a bit more for garnish, optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the fish: Preheat a broiler. Line a medium sized baking sheet with foil. Set aside.

Drizzle the tilapia fillets on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the fillets in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and broil until cooked through and the flesh flakes easily with a fork, about 6 to 8 minutes.

For the sauce (this can be done while the fish is broiling): In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, agave nectar, and mustard until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice and chives. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer the tilapia to a serving platter, garnish with additional chives, and serve sauce on the side.

Roasted Tomato and Fresh Basil Soup (and a Vegetable Stock Recipe)

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Besides chicken noodle, I would have to say tomato is probably the most famous, well-known soup in existence. According to Wikipedia, “The first noted tomato soup was made by Maria Parloa in 1872, and Joseph A. Campbell’s recipe for condensed tomato soup in 1897 further increased its popularity.” And of course, when thinking about tomato soup one can’t forget Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup Cans. For so many individuals, tomato soup (perhaps with a side of grilled cheese) is the quintessential comfort food.

As for me, I’m actually not a huge fan. I can’t recall having homemade tomato soup as a kid and as a result I was just used to the very “meh” canned stuff (no offense, Campbell’s). Since I never had especially positive experiences with the stuff I kind of ignored it most of my life. I would see it on menus from time to time and would immediately just skim right past it. Even seeing it prepared by my favorite chefs on Food Network didn’t really intrigue me.

About a year ago I decided I would try to embrace a soup that most of the world seems to love and took a stab at making my own. While I liked it I thought it had a bit of a flat flavor, probably due to the fact that the fresh tomatoes I used (in the middle of winter) were far from in-season. Not wanting to be defeated by a soup, I looked for other recipes and eventually found one that roasted the tomatoes before mixing them in with the other soup ingredients.

I adore roasted vegetables. I think roasting is one of the best ways of cooking a vegetable as it brings out a ton of natural sweetness. While I was still using not-in-season tomatoes, I found that the roasting process negated subpar tomatoes.

While I had come close to finding my ideal soup, there was just one other thing I wasn’t in love with: the stock. Yes, I had always taken the route of buying vegetable stock in a carton from the store. Stock is always so much better when homemade and when it comes to vegetable stock there’s really no excuse not to make your own… it’s so easy and cheap to make.

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Roasted Tomato and Fresh Basil Soup

Adapted from Sunny Anderson

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 8 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
  • 2 red peppers, quartered and seeded
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (white sugar or agave are fine substitutes)
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Gently toss together 2 tablespoons of the oil, the vinegar, thyme, tomatoes, red peppers and onions on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Arrange the tomatoes and red peppers skin-side up and bake until lightly charred, 45 to 50 minutes.

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Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic and mix well and cook for a few minutes until the tomato paste has become a copper color.  Add the tomato and pepper mixture, including the juices, and combine. Stir in the stock; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the soup and basil to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and pulse in small batches until silky smooth. Use a separate bowl to hold the blended soup, and then return it all to the pot, taste for seasoning, and cook for a few more minutes. Serve with additional chopped herbs and a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream (optional). Serves 6.

Vegetable Stock

Adapted from Allrecipes

Besides using very basic vegetables, this is an easy stock that can be made while the tomatoes in the tomato soup roast.

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  • 1 large onion, chopped into a medium dice
  • 2 stalks celery, including some leaves, chopped into a medium dice
  • 2 large carrots, chopped into a medium dice
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • About 8 whole peppercorns
  • 2 quarts water

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for approximately 30 minutes. Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Yields approximately 7 cups of stock. Easy peasy!

Mashed “Potatoes” (Mashed Cauliflower)

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I think at some point in the past few weeks or so I knocked my head and lost all sense of judgment. See, I decided to go on this ridiculous diet where I can’t eat carbs, sugar, fat… basically the good things in life. Why would I do that to myself?

Don’t get me wrong, I love veggies and healthy food but when potatoes and bread are eliminated from your diet you can really start to miss them and begin to loath another bite of salad. Why can’t I have a slice of pizza or a steak taco?

A quick Google search will show a ton of healthier alternatives to things like tortillas and pizza crust (both made out of cauliflower), and while they’ve turned out okay, neither were solid replicas of the foods I’ve come to love. They just didn’t quite satisfy.

Given my adequate track record of using cauliflower as a substitute, I was dubious when I read recipes and rave reviews for mashed “potatoes” made out of cauliflower. Could anything really replace the perfection of tender Yukon gold potatoes that have been mashed with copious amounts of butter and cream? Why yes, you can replace all those carbs and fat with something that tastes delicious and is much healthier for you. I was pleasantly shocked at how satisfying these were. Really.

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Mashed “Potatoes”

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
  • 3 cloves of garlic (I used a few more, because I really like garlic and the cloves I was using were tiny)
  • 1/3 cup non-fat yogurt
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chives (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add chopped cauliflower and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Once cooked, drain and lightly pat dry with a paper towel.

Add peeled cloves of garlic to a food processor and pulse until minced. Add yogurt and cauliflower and pulse a few times before fully pureeing. If you were cooking actual potatoes you would never want to use a food processor (they get really gummy in texture), but you really can’t over mash cauliflower. Once the texture is silky smooth, add salt and pepper to taste.

If desired, sprinkle chives on top.

Garlicky, Lemony Green Beans

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Do any of you have recipes that are so simple and easy that you can eat the finished product within 10 minutes of opening starting? While I have no qualms spending hours in the kitchen to make a dish, everyone needs a few recipes in their arsenal that require few ingredients and can be whipped up in minutes.

For me, sautéed green beans with garlic and lemon are a go-to recipe when I don’t have much time and want a tasty vegetable. While fresh green beans are ideal, I’ve made these countless times with frozen green beans (no need to thaw; right from the freezer is a-ok). Besides green beans, you only need garlic, lemon, and olive oil (and perhaps some crushed red pepper flakes, if so desired). Seeing as I usually cook for just two people, the following will serve two, but it can very easily be doubled, tripled, etcetera.

These are intensely lemony and garlicky and they pair nicely with a steak but somehow are delicate and light enough to work well with a poultry or fish dish or lean protein. If you’re not a fan of overwhelming garlic and lemon (I promise it’s overwhelming in a good way), feel free to cut back a bit (although I don’t recommend it).

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Garlicky, Lemony Green Beans

  • 1/2 lb fresh green beans
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Fill a large sautee pan with an inch of water. Bring to boil and add salt (you want to add enough salt so that the water tastes of the sea, similar to what you would do with pasta water). Meanwhile, trim the stems of the green beans.

Once water has come to a boil (it should boil quickly), add green beans and blanche for approximately 2 minutes. Drain green beans and immediately rinse in the coldest tap water (the goal is to stop the cooking and ensure the beans stay a vibrant green [you can also place them in a bowl of ice water, but I find my tap water is cold enough]).

Meanwhile, using the same sautee pan you used to blanche the green beans, drizzle in approximately a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sautee for a few minutes, until fragrant, but not browned. Add green beans and cook for 3 minutes, until heated through. Add lemon juice and cook for an additional minute. Before serving, mix in lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Barley with Roasted Carrot and Radish Salad

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So, last week I posted a dip recipe that was not only delicious, but also pretty healthy for you! In the spirit of 2014 I’m trying to lay off the butter, booze, fat, and carbs and try to eat a few more veggies. But really, does anyone want to eat healthy after a night of drinking on New Years Eve? I know on January 1 all I wanted to do was eat some bacon and eggs and go back to sleep.

I sort of treated myself the first few days of 2014. I wanted to start off the year on a decadent note since plenty of things were going not-so-well in my professional life (or should I say lack of professional life). So, I ate delicious burgers and fries, went to an amazing tapas bar for dinner, had fried chicken and bottomless mimosas for brunch, and ate more pizza than recommended.

But starting today, January 6, I’ve decided to really lay off the unhealthier things in life and treat my body a little bit better.  Plus, I do have a trip to Mexico coming up and I’d like to look mildly presentable in pictures….

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Barley with Roasted Carrot and Radish Salad

Serves 4-6

Besides being packed with flavor, this is a budget friendly recipe. Carrots and radishes are some of the cheapest vegetables out there and their flavors are dramatically changed when roasted. Carrots are almost sinfully sweet when roasted and radishes (which I despise when raw) really lose their bitter flavor and end up with a mellow, almost potato flavor. Add in some pickled green onion and creamy, tangy feta cheese and this dish is a perfect lunch.

  • 1 cup Pearl Barley
  • 2 bunches radishes
  • 3 large carrots
  • Olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4-6 ounces (depending on your preference) feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

Cook barley per package instructions. I use Bob’s Red Mill and they specify 1 cup of barley, 3 cups water, bring to boil, cover, reduce to simmer, and cook for 50-60 minutes; but follow package instructions.

Meanwhile, dice carrots into bite size pieces, remove stems from radishes, and chop each radish in half (you can leave small radishes whole). Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil (about a tablespoon), sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and roast in a 400 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until slightly browned and caramelized.  

Let vegetables and barley cool slightly. Meanwhile, chop off the white portions of the bunch of scallions (reserve the green portion). In a small bowl, mix together white portions of scallion, vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Chop reserved green portion of scallions.

In a large bowl, mix together the cooled barley and vegetables, pickled scallion, green scallion, and feta. Gently mix together and taste for seasoning. Drizzle on additional olive oil (a tablespoon or so), optional.

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