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Archive for June, 2011

I opened my mailbox last night to one of my favorite sights. A food magazine,  its precious pages protected in a plastic sleeve. Last night it was July’s Bon Appétit. Last week, it was June’s Food&Wine. Sometimes I tear the plastic off right away and curl up with the latest issue and a glass of wine, tearing through it in an evening, dog-earing recipes. Other times, I savor the issue, reading it in bed over several nights, a bedtime story that leaves me with sweet (or savory) dreams. Stacked next to my bed is half a year’s worth of cooking magazines.

But sometimes, I find the magazine, still enrobed in plastic, a month later. (Issues with celebrity actors turned cookbook authors are prime candidates for staying under wraps. <sigh>)

An ex-boyfriend got me started on cooking magazines almost a decade ago. He’s also the one who inspired me to get a Kitchenaid mixer. While our relationship was transient, his influence was not. Well, at least as far as cooking was concerned. He pushed my food boundaries. I owe him a lot.

Even though I turn to the web or a cookbook when searching for a recipe, I still like flipping through the magazines. The best, of course, is when you find a recipe that is just perfect immediately. That night. You have the ingredients hanging out in your kitchen, just waiting to be put to good use.

Back in February, I tore open my Bon Appétit and consumed it. My version of the cover brownies is on it’s way, but today we’re here to talk about slaw. I had a friend staying over and I barely heard a thing she said until I finished making an Asian winter slaw, staining the pristine pages with miso and rice vinegar. As we caught up on the year we had spent in different cities, I didn’t even make it to the table – I just ate the entire slaw out of the bowl sitting on the kitchen counter. Luckily, I have an open kitchen. Luckily, she had already eaten. Lucikly, there was no need to share.

Miso brocco-slaw

The original recipe calls for ginger, but I left it out because it molds too easily and I rarely have it in my fridge (when I remember, I do freeze it). I adjusted the proportions and added soy sauce and sesame oil. The recipe works equally well with cabbage.

Enough for 2, if you’re willing to share.

- 2 T rice vinegar

- 1 T white miso

- 3 T vegetable oil

- 2 t soy sauce

- 1 t sesame oil

- 1 16-ounce bag broccoli slaw

- small handful cilantro, chopped (~1/4 C)

- sesame seeds

Make dressing. Whisk together vinegar, miso, oils, and soy sauce.

Make salad. Put slaw and cilantro in a bowl. Toss with dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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yank the covers off

Summer came early this year. And Winter left late.

One morning, the sun burst into my room at 6 am. No warning. No hiding behind a few lazy clouds. No snooze button. No climbing back under the sheets. This was a yank-the-covers-off, dive-into-the-cold-pool hello! Goodbye, five-plus months of Winter. Goodbye, snow storms that shut down the airports. Goodbye, two straight weeks of rain. And then, hello, tornado. Hello, full-blown hazy hot humid Summer.

And I’m excited to be here. In Summer.

But I missed Spring. I’m the kind of girl who likes to crawl back under the covers for just a few more minutes of sleep. So, a few weeks ago, when it should have been spring, I was invited to a friend’s for dinner and I made the kind of salad that celebrated the season even if the weather wasn’t cooperating. A verdant salad just waiting for the colorful blossoms of summer to peek out.

Well, Summer, on your first official day, here I am. Armed with flip-flops. Armed with picnic blankets for long lazy days. Armed with a nylon bag in my purse in case I snag some corn ears, heirloom tomatoes, or pea shoots at a farmers market on my way home from work. Hello! I’m looking forward to some good times with you.

Green green salad

The genesis of this salad is an herb salad that I adapted to be entirely green. It’s an assortment of different leaves and herbs, cucumbers, jicama or apple, and avocado. I love using pea shoots when I can find them and you might remember seeing them here before. If your pea shoots are really young, you can just chop them up and throw them in the mix. If the stems are a bit tougher, I recommend tearing off the leaves, tendrils, and blossoms for the salad and then chopping and sautéing the remaining tougher stems with some garlic. The dressing is a basic lemon-olive oil mix with a bit of cayenne pepper for a kick.

For the salad:

If you’re going to use jicama, cut it first into small cubes or matchsticks and toss with some lime juice, salt, and cilantro. Let marinate while you’re preparing the rest of the salad.

Into a bowl, throw  your favorite greens and herbs. I use a double handful each of arugula, pea shoots, and baby spinach and then a few large pinches of freshly chopped cilantro, mint, and sometimes basil. Lightly dress (see below) and toss the greens and herbs.

Arrange over the greens thinly-sliced cucumber (I use a mandoline to slice baby Persian cucumbers – they’re smaller and sweeter than regular cucumbers), jicama or green apple matchsticks, and avocado. Add extra dressing if necessary and toasted pistachios if desired.

For the dressing: Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil in a 1:1.5 ratio and add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.

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Earlier this month, I started writing:

“As the thunder thunders and the lightening lightens the red sky, I’m sitting inside with a glass of red on my coffee table next to my propped-up feet, my keyboard perched on my lap.”

And that’s about as far as I got during the tornado that touched down about an hour outside of Boston earlier this month. I was glad to be inside and baking. It feels strange talking about cookies on a night that was so devastating to families nearby. But at the very least, I wanted to share this recipe.

Dark chocolate chip and orange cookies

Makes 4+ dozen cookies

This recipe is a close cousin of these chocolate chip cookies, adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, but with a decidedly more adult palate. Dark chocolate (70%). Orange zest and orange blossom water. Almond flour (if you have it). As I mentioned the last time I made them, these cookies bake up soft and round, so if you like them flatter and crispier, add 1-2T water with the wet ingredients. The picture above is the almond flour variation with an extra 2T of water.

- 1/2 C softened butter or margarine

- 3/4 C white sugar

- 3/4 C brown sugar

- 2 eggs

- 2 t orange blossom water

- zest of 1 orange (~1T)

- 2C flour or 1 C flour + 1C almond flour

- 1/2 t baking soda

- 1/2 t salt

- 1.5C  bittersweet (70%) chocolate chunks (Whole Food sells them, or you can chop up a block of bittersweet chocolate — my favorite is Callebaut)

- 1-2 T water (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, orange blossom water, and orange zest, and beat until well blended. Add 1-2 T water if desired to make cookies crisper. Mix flour with baking soda and salt, then add it to the liquid ingredients and mix by hand. Fold in chocolate chunks.

Bake. Drop cookies by level tablespoonful onto a silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet.  I use a 1T cookie scoop. Bake 10 minutes until lightly browned. Cool for a few minutes before removing from silpat/parchment and transfer to a rack.

I keep my cookies in the freezer and think they are best eaten cold.

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last dance

My mini food-processor danced his last dance tonight. You may remember him from the garlic scape photo shoot. We first met during Passover 2 years ago when he made me two batches of cookies. I liked him so much that I converted him to non-Passover use and kept him around all year. I nicknamed him “chop-chop” and he lived on the countertop next door to the stove. Until tonight.

I walked into my kitchen and dropped two grocery bags on the counter. Salmon was on the menu. In between trips to the fridge, I turned the oven to 500°F, cleaned and sliced a few potatoes, unwrapped and patted dry 2 salmon fillets, and lined a baking sheet with parchment. Into the fridge the groceries went. Into the oven the potatoes went (thanks, Jess, for reminding me how to roast them!). Onto the computer I went. Tired of my en papillote in aluminum foil method, I sought inspiration for dinner. A quick search – “salmon lemon dill” – did the trick.

The music began. I gingerly approached with a bouquet of dill that he grabbed from my fist and twirled into a fine paste with a clove of garlic. He spun around with the olive oil, but sputtered when I introduced him to lemon juice and zest. The music played on and I gave him a moment to catch his breath.

Seeing that the potatoes were almost done, crisping and blistering on one side of the parchment, I dropped the oven down to 400°F and cuddled the salmon onto the other side.

A few pieces of bread perked him up, but soon his turns slowed and he made a graceful bow and exit. The music played on.

Ten minutes later, I spooned his inheritance on the salmon and sat down to eat.

Salmon with lemon dill pesto

- 1/2 pound salmon

- 1/2 C dill fronds and stems

- 1-2 cloves garlic

- 3-4 T olive oil

- juice and zest of one lemon

- 1-2 slices of bread (I used half a pita)

- salt and pepper

Roast salmon. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Rinse salmon fillets and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and bake on parchment for 10-12 minutes until opaque.

Make pesto. In food-processor, puree dill and garlic. Add olive oil and lemon juice and zest and continue to pulse. Soak bread in water until mushy. Squeeze out most of the water and add bread to the dill mix. Puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve. Spoon pesto on top of salmon and serve warm.

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