roasted asparagus with pistachio nut purée

April 24, 2014 § 76 Comments

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This is a seriously delicious light dinner.   The recipe comes  from a local Seattle cook Michael Natkin.   He has a wonderful cookbook called Herbivoracious and a blog full of unique vegetarian recipes.  Here we have a pistachio nut puree although as he puts it  “puree isn’t quite the right word. It is more like a nut-based hummus; rich, creamy, slightly fluffy, but packed full of the flavor of roasted nuts.”

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 cup unsalted, roasted pistachios
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water, or a little more as needed
For the asparagus
  • 1 pound fat asparagus spears, trimmed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted, roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • flaky salt
  • fresh chives
For the pistachio puree

Combine the pistachos, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, smoked paprika, and half of the olive oil in the blender. With the lid on and the blender running on medium low speed, drizzle in the remaining oil and then the water, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Blend until color lightens and fairly smooth but not completely textureless. You may need to add a little more water.
Taste and adjust seasoning; it will likely need more salt and possibly more lemon juice or spices, but don’t overpower the pistachio flavor. Reserve, with plastic wrap on the surface to prevent oxidation.

For the asparagus

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss the asparagus with a bit of olive oil and sea salt. Roast on a baking sheet until tender, about 10 minutes. Turn on broiler and cook until blackened in spots.  To serve, spoon the pistachio puree on a plate and place the asparagus on top. Garnish with the balsamic vinegar, chopped pistachios, flaky salt and snipped chives.

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mac and cheese

April 21, 2014 § 79 Comments

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Little people love macaroni and cheese.   My son grew up on boxes of Annie’s shells and cheese.  Some fortunate parents are able to sneak vegetables into the mix, such as peas or broccoli.  Not us.  He would not touch it if there was anything green inside.  Thankfully he loved fruit and there was always little side dishes of strawberries, apples, grapes or oranges.  Even adults needs this kind of food at times.  The soft texture and mild cheesy flavor of macaroni and cheese remind us of our childhood meals, when we felt safe and cared for, bringing comfort to our soul.

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I used mezzi rigatoni.  This would have been wonderful with added english peas.  The peas would have fit perfectly in the wide open holes of the rigatoni.  But we couldn’t have anything green inside now could we?

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 pound of macaroni or rigatoni
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk, heated
  • 2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups finely chopped american cheese – yes…the ooey gooey stuff…for the kids
  • salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • hot pepper sauce (for serving)

M e t h o d

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain well.  Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.  Butter a deep 4-quart casserole.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour.   Gradually whisk in the milk.  Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the cheddar and 1 cup of the american cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.   Spread one third of the pasta over the bottom of the casserole dish.  Top with half of the shredded cheeses and a third of the sauce.  Repeat, using another third of the pasta with the remaining cheese and half of the sauce.  Finish with the remaining pasta and sauce.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top.  Bake until bubbly and golden brown around the edges, about 30 minutes.

 

 

spring vegetable risotto with a poached egg

March 19, 2014 § 73 Comments

Here is  delicious spring risotto recipe.  Crispy fennel, sweet nutty cremini mushrooms, garlic and spring leeks all together with creamy Parmigiano-Reggiano risotto and an egg on top.  My last recipe I posted had an egg on top too!  Must be the warm spring air and the thought of chicken’s laying fresh eggs giving me inspiration.  Or maybe it’s because I have cut back a bit on my meat consumption and the eggs are a source of protein I so often crave.  Whatever the reason it doesn’t matter because honestly, the egg was a love match with this risotto.  A perfect union.

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Risotto can seem so daunting to prepare.  Standing over a pot midweek and continuously stirring for twenty minutes can seem a bit much for some.  However, once all the ingredients are chopped and prepped it is quite effortless.    There is something to be said about being organized in the kitchen.  It certainly makes for a much better cooking experience and this goes together quite smoothly when you gather all your ingredients and prep them before heating your pot.

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Refashioned from Bon Appétit… serves 4, generously.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 4 large fresh eggs
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 pound crimini mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, white only, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • handful of baby spinach leaves, cleaned and dried
  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen (thawed) peas
  • 2 tablespoons greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for shaving
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, snipped
  • Freshly ground black pepper

M e t h o d

Bring a large skillet of salted water to a bare simmer over medium-low heat. Add vinegar. Crack 1 egg into a small bowl, then slide into simmering water. Repeat with 3 more eggs. Cook until whites are cooked but yolks are runny, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water.

Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large, wide heavy pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to bowl.
Heat oil and remaining 1 tablespoon butter in same pot over medium heat. Add leeks, fennel, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until evaporated, about 4 minutes.  Add 1 cup broth. Cook, stirring often (no need to stir constantly), until broth is almost absorbed.  Add remaining broth by ladlefuls, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more, stirring often, until rice is tender but still firm to the bite and mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total.  Add spinach, greek yogurt, 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, snipped chives, peas and mushrooms to risotto. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted and cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Season risotto with salt.  A few minutes before risotto is done, reheat poached eggs in a large skillet of simmering water, about 1 minute.  Divide risotto among bowls and top with eggs, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, chives, and pepper.

spice crusted carrots with harissa yogurt

March 10, 2014 § 85 Comments

Our weather is warming up and for the past three or four days I have shifted from preparing chickpea stews, Mexican casseroles and pasta to fixing lighter vegetable dishes, salads and grains.  For dinner last night we had a wonderful braised tofu and spice crusted carrots with harissa yogurt.

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What was so impressive about this Bon Appétit recipe was the crusted texture of the carrots, the flavor of smoked paprika, sweetness from a trace of sugar and a lots of lemon zest.  Complex flavor; simple in preparation.

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My preparation is slightly modified from the original Bon Appétit recipe.  I cut back on the sugar and did not rub the skins off of the carrots.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • zest from 1/2 lemon

M e t h o d

Cook carrots in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender.  Drain. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Using paper towels, gently pat dry.  The Bon Appétit recipe recommends using a paper towel to gently rub the skins off of the carrots.  We used organic carrots and left the skins on.

Mix sugar, mustard powder, paprika, cumin, and coriander in a small bowl. Toss carrots with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium bowl.  Add spice mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Working in batches, cook carrots, turning occasionally, until deep brown all over, 6–8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, place yogurt in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add harissa paste, 2 teaspoons thyme,  lemon zest and gently swirl ingredients, stopping before yogurt turns pink.
Spoon harissa yogurt onto plates and top with carrots, more thyme, and more lemon zest. Serve with lemon wedges.

asparagus gruyère tart

March 5, 2014 § 119 Comments

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Asparagus is making it debut in the markets right now and for me it is the first sign of spring!  Here is a delicious spring-like tart recipe for you to make.  Although it takes just minutes to put together, this savory tart makes an impressive appetizer, brunch or in our case a late afternoon refreshment.  You could even serve it as a main course with a simple green salad or it is a lovely choice to “take along” to a friend’s for a potluck.

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Scoring the dough:  Use a sharp knife to ensure that the edges rise evenly; prickling the center of the pastry with a fork keeps it from puffing up too high as it bakes.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • flour, for work surface
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
  • 5-1/2 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1-1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

M e t h o d

Preheat oven to 400°F.   On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry into an approximate 16×10 inch rectangle.  Place the pastry on a baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, lightly score the dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle.  Using a fork, pierce the dough inside the markings at half-inch intervals.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pastry from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese.  Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips.  Brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until the spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

tabbouleh

February 28, 2014 § 90 Comments

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If you are experiencing winter right now wouldn’t you agree this is the time of the year when you start dreaming of fresh peas, forget-me-nots, asparagus, mint and chives?  Well, the forget-me-nots are barely peeking from the soil out back and I haven’t seen fresh peas yet.  I did get a glimpse of some good looking thin asparagus stalks at the market the other day.  We are just not quite there yet.  It is still cold, snowy, windy, rainy, and dormant.

The other day I was reading a post from lucysfriendlyfoods and when I saw her tabbouleh post I had that glorious feeling spring is here.  We may not be there yet, but why not make a nice fresh herbal salad with little tomatoes and roasted chickpeas.  Yes, the same roasted chickpeas I posted just the other day.  My understanding of tabbouleh is the cracked wheat (bulgur) is meant to be more of a garnish and the herbs play a larger role as the main ingredient.  Tabbouleh should be considered a green herbal salad with a touch of cracked wheat.  Thank you lucylox for  inspiring a pre-spring salad!    Now, I’m off to Fiesta Friday, as usual a little late.  See you there!  And thank you for the spoon Elena!

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • Small bunch of mint, finely chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped (or less depending desired taste)
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

M e t h o d

Place the bulgur in a medium size bowl with  2 cups of boiling water.  Allow it to sit and absorb the liquid.   Once liquid is absorbed and bulgur has become soft, place in a sieve and remove any remaining excess water.  Place the bulgur in a serving bowl and fluff up with a fork.  Pour over the lemon, oil and salt. Mix well.  Stir in the parsley, mint, onion and tomatoes.  Toss well and serve at room temperature, topped with crispy roasted chickpeas.

crispy roasted chickpeas

February 26, 2014 § 86 Comments

There is a friendly little wine bar close to our house we like to visit on occasion.   They serve wine on tap.  Apparently, this not only means no waste, but it means taking less of a toll on the environment; less transportation and manufacturing costs, less fuel emissions and no glass and corks heading to the landfill.  Seattle is a very environmentally friendly city and needless to say wine on tap is a fair concept for most of us.  Well, I prefer wine from an oak barrel.  But then,  I don’t go along for the wine, it’s the ambiance of the place and more importantly…the crispy roasted chickpeas they serve as an appetizer.

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Crispy roasted chickpeas is not a new idea, but a revisited idea.  If you haven’t made them, do.  If you have made them and it’s been awhile, do it again.

I found a chickpea brand and was pleasantly surprised when I opened the can and found the skins were already taken off of them.  Otherwise, to easily remove the skin rub the chickpeas with your fingers in a bowl filled with water. The chickpea skins will float to the top, and you can pour them off to drain.  You may use any spice you would like.  Experiment!  The first time I made these I used sweet smoked paprika and haven’t even considered using anything else.

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Here’s the recipe and be warned, you will not stop eating them once your start.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt
  • choice of spices, I used sweet smoked paprika

M e t h o d

Preheat the oven to 400° F.   If you open your cans and find the skins on the chickpeas, place the chickpeas in a large bowl and fill with water. Rub the chickpeas with your fingers gently to remove the skins. The skins will float to the surface of the water, pour them off the side of the bowl. Drain the chickpeas and dry well with paper towels. Toss to coat the chickpeas with the olive oil, spices, and sea salt.  Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, until golden and crispy. Enjoy right away while they are warm and crispy!

Serves 4, as an appetizer.

roasted butternut squash on polenta

February 24, 2014 § 79 Comments

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There are many ways to prepare polenta and because of all the dos and don’ts that come with cooking it some folks are far too trepidatious to try.  I am here to tell you if you haven’t made polenta yet, it is time.  It really is simple and you will be rewarded with a bowl of luscious polenta and never be intimated again.  If you are interested in a lighter rustic polenta follow this cooking method.  Otherwise, here is a recipe for an unforgettably creamy polenta.  Be warned…it has lots of butter, milk and Parmesan cheese.  And giving credit where it is due, this polenta recipe comes from the barefoot contessa, believe me, I could never dream up a recipe for such a rich delicious polenta like this.

I n g r e d i e n t s

For the butternut squash

  • 1 butternut squash,  peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper

For the creamy polenta

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup good quality freshly grated Parmesan
  • handful of torn parsley leaves

M e t h o d

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Place butternut squash in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper and coat well.  Place on a baking sheet in one layer and bake for 30 minutes or until your squash is soft and the edges are a bit caramelized.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt, and pepper and sauté for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, half-and-half, and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly sprinkle the cornmeal into the hot milk while stirring constantly with a whisk.  Return the pot to a low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes, until thickened and bubbly. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan.

Pour the polenta onto a serving dish and top with butternut squash,  parsley and freshly grated Parmesan.

spicy beans and wilted greens stew

February 17, 2014 § 85 Comments

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It is windy, cold and raining buckets and as you can imagine a spicy chickpea stew is perfect for this type of weather.  Each spoonful unites the earthy nutty sweetness of chickpeas and spunky soulful taste of mustard greens, heat from the chile’s and rounding out the whole, a subtle undertone of rosemary.  This stew is a breeze to make and keeps well for several days in the refrigerator.  I suppose in the spirit of beans ‘n greens, swapping the ingredients and using white beans, kale. collard greens or chard would be just as effective in producing a delicious cold night vegetarian stew.

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You may save cooking time by using chickpeas in a can. Two 15 ounce cans shall be equivalent to 1 pound dried and soaked chickpeas.  We served our stew with a baguette, which when dunked was out of this world.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 jalapeño chiles, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 parmesan rind, plus grated parmesan for serving
  • 1 pound dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained
  • 1 bunch kale or mustard greens, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch large flat-leaf spinach, trimmed, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups trimmed arugula, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

M e t h o d

Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Cook chiles and garlic, stirring occasionally, until garlic is soft, about 4 minutes. Add onion, celery and rosemary sprig.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Add Parmesan rind, chickpeas and 10 cups water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more water as needed, until beans soften up,  3–4 hours.
Lightly crush some beans to give stew a creamy consistency. Mix in mustard greens, spinach, and half of arugula; Taste, season with salt and pepper if needed. Cook until greens are wilted,  5–8 minutes.  Toss in remaining arugula with lemon juice.   Divide stew among bowls and top with arugula, freshly grated parmesan and a drizzle of oil.

soft goat cheese and fennel pie

December 23, 2013 § 68 Comments

We prepared this savory pie for dinner the other night and if you are in need of an aromatherapy session this is your answer.  Your whole house will have a lovely scent of fennel and roasted walnuts.  It is perfect for a casual weekend lunch or as a vegetarian option for entertaining.  We enjoy a savory pie for breakfast on Christmas morning.  You can make it the night before, refrigerate and reheat in the morning.  Awww the smell…

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 3 fennel bulbs, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 oz. soft goat cheese, roughly crumbled
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 light cream
  • 2 tablespoon chopped scallions
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • your basic regular pie crust recipe

M e t h o d 

Preheat oven 350°F.  Put the fennel bulb wedges on a roasting pan, add the olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes, until golden and tender.  Let cool to room temperature.  Prepare your pie crust while the fennel is in the oven roasting.

Once the fennel has cooled arrange onto the pie shell and scatter the cheese and walnuts randomly over and in between the pieces of fennel.  Put the eggs, cream, and scallions in a bowl.  Whisk with a fork to combine, season well and pour over the fennel.  Bake in the still-hot oven for about 45 minutes, until golden on top.  Serve the pie at room temperature.  Delicious with a lightly dressed arugula salad on the side.

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