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Friday, October 31, 2014

Carrot and Mung Bean Salad


I don’t know if anyone has had a chance to try mung beans yet, but if you haven’t you might want to put them on your list. They do not need to be presoaked and they are delicious, healthy and full of protein. Last week I picked up the dried sprouted version at Whole Foods Market in the bulk food section. There was another fabulous recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book "Plenty More" that I could not wait to prepare and mung beans were once again the star. In his notes about this recipe, Yotam describes them as rather a bland bean but one that will soak up loads of flavor. I tried the fresh mung bean sprouts here, from his other sprouted salad recipe and was smitten.


The recipe was made on a day that it was not exactly planned for. In spite of that it was a great accompaniment to our meal and fairly easy to put together. The carrots were trimmed and placed in a saucepan in a single layer. Next they were partially covered with water, sugar and olive oil and cooked for 10 to 15 minutes. The carrots were beautiful in color and slightly caramelized. This added another layer of flavor to this wonderful salad. The only thing to complain about was the cleaning of the pan, which hubs took care of by adding water, sitting it back on the stove and scrapping the sides down when the water started boiling. A salad that I will make again and again.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup dried green mung beans (I used dried sprouted mung beans)
4 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt, divided (plus more to season)
3 large carrots (trimmed and cut into 2 x 5 inch longs and thin and then 1/4 inch wide)
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cups cilantro (leaves chopped)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 ounces feta, crumbled

To prepare:

Fill a medium sized saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add mung beans and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until beans are just tender. Drain well. Place in a medium sized bowl.

In the meantime in another saucepan over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, cumin, caraway and fennel seeds. Stir constantly until the seeds start to pop, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over the beans. **You want to time this so that you are pouring the hot oil and spices over hot beans** Then add the garlic, vinegar, chile flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Place the prepared carrots in a pan that is shallow enough to set them side by side. Add 2/3 cup water, along with 2 tablespoons olive oil, sugar and salt. Bring water quickly to a boil and keep heat on high, about 10 to 12 minutes. Most of the water should be evaporated by then, and carrots should be slightly caramelized.


Add the carrots to the bean mixture along with the cilantro and feta cheese. Sprinkle lemon zest on top, gingerly stir, taste add more salt if necessary. Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cottage Cooking Club Month of October, Two Recipes

Today's post is the sixth installment of the Cottage Cooking Club a virtual cooking group started by Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness. We are currently cooking our way through the River Cottage Veg cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Every month Andrea picks one recipe from each of the ten chapters. We then pick and choose which one or ones we want to blog about in a single post. For the month of October I prepared two of the recipes.


The first recipe I prepared was the Cannellini bean and leek soup with chili oil. I started first with the chili oil in which everything was gently cooked together in a saucepan for 20 minutes. When finished; the oil had taken on a golden hue and was quite spicy. A few drops is all that was needed to finish off the soup.


The rest of the soup came together quite quickly, basically beans, herbs and leeks. Love the taste and simplicity of this dish. Even more flavorful the next day....


Next was the Roasted cauliflower with lemon and paprika. Hot smoked paprika and lemon are sprinkled over the trimmed florets and then roasted. This method sounds very simple and it is, but the flavor is complex. It tastes caramelized and smokey with bits of the lemon popping up here and there. Roasting the cauliflower totally changed this little veggie and brought it to a whole new dimension. The addition of the lemon and paprika is definitely a spice combination that I would use again and again, it is delicious.


Recipes adapted from the River Cottage Veg, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. First recipe; cookbook chapter Hefty soups; Cannellini bean and leak soup with chile oil, page 165. Second recipe; cookbook chapter Roast, grill and broil; Roasted cauliflower with lemon and paprika, page 352.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Grilled Fig Salad with Spiced Cashews


Love fresh figs, there is nothing quite like them. I picked up the last basket today at Whole Foods Market. They were ripe and needed to be used straight away. I had just the recipe to showcase their flavor. It’s hard to describe what a fresh fig tastes like. They are sweet but not too sweet and they have a lot of small seeds. I remember as a child always begging my mom to buy Fig Newtons. They were not real popular in our household as I was the only one that liked them.

This is a great salad with spiced glazed cashews and perfectly ripened figs. In the first part of this recipe you are instructed to bring sugar and water together until a light amber caramel forms. For some reason I always seem to have problems with caramel, this time it took me two tries to get the consistency right. The first time I boiled it too long and all the moisture was gone. The sugar was flaky and stuck to the pan. The second time was just right. Chinese five-spice is then added to the caramel mixture to add tons of flavor. Next, the raw cashews are thrown in and then spread on a baking sheet. The end result reminded me of a brittle. Next time I will use roasted nuts for the crunch and then break them up into smaller pieces. The dressing was fantastic and the addition of the black sesame seeds was spot on. We loved the way all the flavors worked together in the end, definitely a recipe worth repeating.

This recipe has been slightly adapted from the Food and Wine magazine. Recipe was created by Ratha Chaupoly and Ben Daitz who own Num Pang, a sanwich shop in New York City.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
1 cup raw cashews (next time will use roasted)
Salt to taste
1/4 cup canola oil, more for brushing cut side of figs
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
3 scallions, green parts only, thinly cut
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (toasted)
8 ounces mixed baby greens

To prepare:

Start by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium sized saucepan, combine water and sugar together and bring to a boil, continue to boil over a low heat undisturbed about 5 minutes. The mixture should now be a light amber color.


Remove from heat add five-spice and butter, whisk until combined. Add nuts, cover completely with mixture and then pour unto the baking sheet. Spread in a even layer. Season with salt while still hot. After cooled, break up nuts.

In a small bowl, whisk together canola oil, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger, scallions and black sesame seeds. Set aside.


Prepare grill, lightly brush cut side of figs with canola oil, season with salt and pepper.


Grill until slightly charred about 2 minutes. Remove from grill and set aside.


Arrange lettuce on serving platter, sprinkle with 1/2 dressing. Add figs and nuts. Serve salad with the rest of the dressing on the side. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yotam's Sprouts Salad, Part Two


Most often I find myself planning meals around the vegetables that I have just purchased or plucked from our home garden. A few years ago it was all about the protein. Not making a big deal about this same subject has also served me well. When we are all together as a family I try to serve several different sides and small plates. Learning about other cuisines has been life changing for us as well.

Just received a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s new cookbook, "Plenty More" and have not looked back. It is reading books like this that you discover different ingredients and spices and the best ways to prepare them. The book is organized into chapters of similar cooking techniques like tossed, steamed, blanched, fried etc. The photography is beautiful and many recipes come with a short story.

The first recipe I chose was this “sprout salad, part two” that is a revised version of another sprout salad. The salad has a light crunch and is bursting with flavor. There is no leafy greens involved, just veggies, avocados, sprouts and nuts. The dressing is the biggest surprise with pickled plum puree as the base.


Ingredients:

Salad:

3 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons sliced roasted almonds
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 large bunch radishes (sliced thinly)
1 small kohlrabi (peeled and cut into thin strips)
1 medium carrot (peeled and cut into thin matchsticks)
1 1/4 cups mung bean sprouts
2 avocados (peeled, pitted and cut into small cubes)
1 cup cilantro leaves (chopped)

Dressing:

1 1/2 teaspoon umeboshi puree (pickled plums)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon low salt soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons superfine sugar
1 small shallot (minced)
3 tablespoons canola oil

To prepare:


Start by preparing dressing, in a food processor add all ingredients. Pulse until well mixed.


Next, in a medium saucepan of water, bring to a boil, add edamame, bring back to a boil. Immediately remove from heat, drain and then refresh with cold water. Shake well to dry, then add to a large serving bowl. Add radishes, kohlrabi, carrot, sprouts, avocados, cilantro, sunflower seeds and almonds to the edamame. Pour the dressing over the salad, mix to combine and serve.


This recipe has been slightly adapted from "Plenty More", by Yotam Ottolenghi.



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Grilled Butternut Squash Bruschetta


Caring about what we eat and where it comes from has changed my perception about many things. It also brings me around to some great farmers markets. Even when we are out of town I love to experience the foods that are grown locally. In my own kitchen; I've noticed that there are a few vegetables that I prepare the same way. As an example; butternut squash is most often roasted.

This week at the farmers market we sampled grilled butternut squash bruschetta. The samples were made by Chrysa Robertson the chef and owner of the Rancho Pinot Grill. I have written about her restaurant here before. She also receives her veggies from the same farmer and was showcasing his veggies along with her culinary talents. The squash was tossed with a red wine vinegar mixture and then left to marinade. I was intrigued as this is something that I have never tried before. Then to add even more flavor garlic is roasted and then mashed into ricotta cheese with fresh herbs and lemon juice. The end result was very flavorful.

*Be sure and leave yourself enough time to marinade the squash; 2 to 8 hours recommended*

Ingredients:

Garlic-lemon ricotta spread:

1 head garlic
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoons chopped chives
2 cups ricotta cheese
Olive oil to drizzle
Salt and pepper to taste

Marinated butternut squash:

1 medium large butternut squash (peeled and seeded, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped, plus extra for garnish
1 teaspoon garlic chopped
Salt and pepper

1 baguette or small loaf crusty bread
Handfull of chopped walnuts for garnish

To prepare:

Combine olive oil, vinegar, honey, rosemary and garlic, toss with sliced squash, marinade 2 to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Peel and discard most of the papery outer layers of the whole garlic bulb. Cut top about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the top of the cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place the garlic heads in a small baking dish, cut side up. Drizzle olive oil over each head and then using your fingers, rub oil over entire bulb.


Cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake 25 to 35 minutes, until cloves feel soft.


This is what they should look like.

Next prepare the garlic-lemon ricotta spread by squeezing the garlic out of their skins; add to a medium sized bowl and mash with a fork. Add garlic, lemon zest, juice and herbs together with the ricotta cheese. Taste, season with salt and pepper, taste and season again if necessary.

Remove squash from marinade and season with salt and pepper, grill on both sides turning frequently until fork tender.

Remove from grill and cut into small pieces. Next grill bread slices lightly, both sides.

For assembly:

Spread lemon-ricotta bead on grilled bread, top with butternut squash, garnish with parsley and walnuts. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.


This recipe has been slightly adapted from Chef Chrysa Robertson of the Rancho Pinot Grill.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sharlotka, A Russian Apple Cake


A sharlotka is really a Russian apple cake. In this particular recipe there are very few ingredients involved and no butter used in the batter. When I first saw the picture of this little cake in Food and Wine magazine, I knew instantly that I would be making it right away. In fact, I made it the same day. I used 5 small Granny Smith apples initially thinking that this was way too many apples. Had no idea they would cook down so much. Next time I will even use a few extra. Also, I was worried the apples would be too tart, but after baking they were sweet and delicious and melted in your mouth.

At one point in the recipe the instructions call for mixing the eggs, almond extract and sugar together on medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes until thick and pale yellow. When batter is the right consistency a ribbon should form. This part was quite baffling to me but after referencing a few baking cookbooks I did exactly as directed.

The end result was a thin crisp like topping that cracks when you cut into it and a soft moist light interior with layers of sweet apple slices at the bottom. This is the kind of cake that could be shared anytime of day. Enjoy!


This recipe has been slightly adapted from Food and Wine magazine, contributed by Chef Matt Danko.

Ingredients:

5 small Granny Smith apples (next time will add 2 more)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Then butter the paper and the sides of the pan.

Peel, cut in half, core and then thinly slice apples, add to medium sized bowl with lemon juice and two tablespoons of the sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes.



Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together, set aside.

Using stand or hand mixer, beat eggs, almond extract and rest of sugar at medium-high speed until thick and pale yellow and a ribbon forms when the beater are lifted about 8 to 10 minutes. ***To test the batter for the correct consistency lift beaters up and the batter should fall off in a flat ribbon-like pattern.**** Gently fold in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.

Drain apples, then spread in bottom of prepared pan in an even layer. Pour batter evenly over apples and let stand 5 minutes to allow batter to sink in.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until it is golden on top and until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let rest for 15 minutes, then unmold. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Ready to serve.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Creamy Parsnip Soup with Pear and Walnuts


Well, we are back in Phoenix, the trip from Oregon to Arizona can sometimes be exhausting. The biggest problem is that I carry too many things from one house to the other. I always bring my favorite knives even though I have knives at each house, and I always cart all my spices to and from in a large Tupperware tub. Sadly this is only the beginning of the things I bring, my husband is a patient man.....

The first 10 days after arriving I spent time with 2 extraordinary young boys; (my grandsons) and was too exhausted to write, post or comment. I marvel how so many of you can juggle kids, work and post all at the same time. Anyway, we had so much fun, we baked pizzas, went to museums, many parks and the zoo.

In the meantime and at the same time the season is changing. Love this time of year! After pursuing through my November issue of the Food and Wine magazine I spied this soup. This recipe is from from Marcus Samuelson's new cookbook, "Marcus Off Duty".  Here I used Yukon potatoes instead of sunchokes and cut back on the cream.


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds parsnips (peeled and chopped)
2 medium Yukon potatoes (peeled and chopped) (recipe uses sunchokes)
4 garlic cloves (peeled and chopped)
4 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups water
3 cups chicken or veggie stock
1/2 cup heavy cream (recipe uses 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


For the toppings:

Chopped walnuts
Drizzle of walnut oil
Fresh pear slices

To prepare:

In a large soup pot on medium heat, add olive oil, then parsnips, potatoes and garlic, stirring until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in garam masala, cumin, turmeric and salt. Cook, stirring until fragrant about 2 minutes. Add water and stock. Bring to a simmer, cook until veggies are tender, about 25 minutes. Add cream.

Puree soup in batches or with boat motor. Taste, season with salt and pepper.

Add toppings and serve. Enjoy!


Parsnips are all about fall and winter and this particular recipe is special, very special.