Archive for the 'fast' Category

05
Jan
14

Bran Muffins

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Well hello there.

The last time I posted I didn’t intend to go two years without blogging. Life has gotten in the way, big time. I had a second baby after an exhausting pregnancy. My job as a reporter became even more intense. Cooking and baking remained an outlet, but there was less time to do it, let alone write about it.

But today, as the four of us hunkered down during a snowstorm in St. Louis, I took the two littles into the kitchen. It felt like the perfect time to come out of our cocoon a bit more and return to Garlic Shoots. Much of the credit goes to my friend Kim McGuire, who linked to Turkish Lentil Soup the other day on Facebook. It made me miss doing this. So I got out the flour, the buttermilk, the honey, the bowls and the spatula. I changed the lens on my camera. I turned toward an old favorite — these bran muffins by Heidi Swanson. They come from her second cookbook — Super Natural Every Day, which I love love love. These muffins have become a winter staple for us. They’re perfect for January — stark and simple, but soulful. As they bake, they make the house smell like butter and honey. They smell like warmth.

During a blizzard, that’s exactly what we needed. And despite their name, these muffins aren’t boring. They hold their own. The fact that they’re made up of whole wheat flour, the wheat bran and flakes make them a nice antidote to the holidays. The other major plus is that they’re easy and quick. When you’ve these two as sous chefs, that’s pretty important.

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Bran Muffins

barley modified from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

1/2 cup barely melted unsalted butter

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1/2 cup unprocessed wheat bran or oat bran

1 1/2 cups pain, unsweetened bran cereal

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in the middle of the oven. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and maple syrup (or honey). Sprinkle the bran and cereal across the top, stir, and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes.

In a separate small bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the top of the wet and stir until just combined. Immediately fill each muffin cup three-quarters full.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the edges of the muffins begin to brown and the tops have set. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn the muffins out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

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01
May
11

Roasted Red-Curry Salmon with Green Beans

I’ve become a slacker lately when it comes to weeknight meals. I could spend the next few sentences explaining why — valid excuses, considering how much I’ve been working lately — but really it’s because of this: I’m tired!!!  And when I’m tired, we eat leftovers all week! You can relate? You know how it feels to spend days eating jarred pasta sauce and frozen meals?

Last week, this recipe got us out of the weeknight rut. I found it in Bon Appetit’s Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook– a tome filled with simple and fresh meals. Many of them are so simple they feel like cheating. This salmon takes less time than boiling water. I made it twice, after working 10 hour- plus days. I came home exhausted and in need of something healthy.

There’s a fair degree of heat to this dish because of the red curry paste. The paste is a Thai staple made from a concentration dried red chile, garlic, shallot, lemongrass and a few other spices. Like soy sauce, there are winners and losers when it comes to the packaged stuff. If you have an international market near you, look for Mae Ploy. Otherwise, use what’s available. Once you whisk the curry paste with lime juice and vegetable oil, you coat the salmon with the mixture. Then toss green beans and slices of red bell pepper with a bit of oil and salt. Place the salmon and veggies on the same sheet pan and roast for 12 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped basil and mint. That’s it. It couldn’t be easier.

Is this dinner party quality? I say no, but you be the judge. On a weeknight, it’s fast, easy and healthy. And it certainly is better than jarred pasta sauce.

Roasted Red-Curry Salmon with Green Beans
Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook

4 6-ounce salmon fillets (each about 1 1/2 inches thick)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
8 ounces green beans, trimmed
1 red bell pepper, cut into long strips
1 generous tablespoon thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1 generous tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spay a heavy rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray, or lightly grease with vegetable oil. Place fish on half of prepared baking sheet. Whisk 1 tablespoon of the oil, lime juice, and curry paste in a small bowl. Spread the mixture over the salmon. Toss green beans and bell pepper in a medium bowl with remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Arrange green beans and pepper on other half of the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt.

Roast in oven until fish is just opaque in center and veggies are crisp tender, about 12 minutes. Put fish on plates and veggies next to the salmon. Sprinkle mint and basil on top. Serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4

18
Apr
11

Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Couscous and Mint Gremolata

The plan Saturday was to get through a gigantic to-do list: a jewelry party, playing with Gabi, getting Gabi’s haircut, running three miles, cleaning the kitchen, exchanging a shirt, and replacing the dead pansies in one of the window boxes. I accomplished half of it — no small feat when you have a scrumptious and distracting toddler.

Amazingly, she went down for a morning nap (we thought the morning naps had ended), so I took advantage of the quiet and made this stew. I’d intended to make it last weekend. But the sun was out and we spent hours at the park instead. But this past Saturday was dreary — perfect cooking weather.

Now about this stew. I come back to it year after year, and for good reason. It’s an aromatic combination of tomato, leeks, carrots, chickpeas, green peas, spinach and couscous. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I need to throw something together for someone who doesn’t eat meat or dairy. It’s fairly quick to make, but has layers of flavor. It’s incredibly healthy. It’s incredibly hearty. It’s nothing short of amazing.

It calls for saffron, a warm spice commonly found in Spanish and Mediterranean dishes. Saffron is pricey, so good thing that a little goes a long way. The additional combination of cinnamon, ground ginger and red chili flakes is what makes this stew so wonderful. The gremolata — finely chopped garlic, parsley, mint and lemon zest — adds freshness. Don’t skip it.

Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Couscous and Mint Gremolata
Simple Meals by Organic Style, Summer 2003

Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch diagonals
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
Large pinch saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh
1/2 pound spinach, washed, stemmed and roughly chopped

Couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup plain couscous
1 teaspoon salt

Gremolata
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

To make the stew:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, 5 quarts or so, over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 or 8 minutes. Watch so they don’t burn.

Add the tomato paste and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in carrots, tomatoes, saffron, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, and ginger. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Add the beans, salt, pepper, and 1 3/4 cups of water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the peas and spinach, and cook uncovered for another 2 minutes, just until the spinach is wilted. (Can be made a few hours ahead of time. Anything more than that, the peas and spinach will not be bright green.)

To make the couscous:

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the couscous and stir until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.Meanwhile, bring 1 1/3 cups of water to a boil. Sprinkle salt over couscous. Pour water over couscous and cover. Let the couscous stand for 5 minutes, until the water is absorbed.

Make the gremolata:

Combine the finely chopped mint, parsley, garlic and lemon zest in a small bowl.

Assemble:

Divide the stew evenly among 4 shallow bowls. Dish couscous into the center of each bowl (a half-cup measure works wonders). Sprinkle gremolata over each bowl of stew.

Serves 4

28
Feb
11

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

I intended to make a kale caesar. My friends Nancy and Jeremy raved about one they made last month — a true caesar salad, with a creamy dressing from egg yolks and anchovies. It sounded interesting. I picked up the ingredients. I started to measure. Then I looked at my mortar and pestle and thought about how much I didn’t want to use it to pound the anchovies into a paste. Yes, I chickened out. I made this kale salad instead.

Why kale? The past two weekends of decent temperatures have made me crave green. Spring is flirting with us here in St. Louis. Crocuses are blooming in our front yard, and a couple of days last week were warm enough to shed coats. But then, sadly, spring scampered off  today and the cold returned.  It’s gray, gray, gray. And I want green — green leaves, green grass, and green food.

I used to shy from raw kale. Then last summer, I had a phenomenal salad of kale and red cabbage while passing through Boulder, Colorado. I still think about it. For best results, use Tuscan/lacinato kale if you make this. It’s also called dinosaur or black kale. The leaves are more tender. This is a strong-tasting salad, as you’d expect from raw kale. The lemon, garlic and Pecorino offset the bitterness of the leaves. It’s incredibly nutritious — exactly what we all need after months of gray weather. The beauty of this salad is that it won’t wilt. Dress it, put it in the fridge and it’s just as good the next day.

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad
New York Times, Oct. 24, 2007

1 bunch Tuscan kale (also known as black, dinosaur or lacinato kale)
1/4 cup homemade bread crumbs (coarse) [I used crumbled up croutons]
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese, more for garnish
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for garnish
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

1. Wash the kale. Trim bottom 2 inches of the stems and throw them out. Slice kale, including ribs, into 3/4-inch-wide ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Place the kale in a large bowl.

2. If making homemade bread crumbs, toast a slice of bread until golden on both sides. Tear it into small pieces and grind in a food processor until mixture forms coarse crumbs. If using croutons, grind in a food pro until crumbs are coarse.

3. Pound garlic into a paste using a mortar and pestle. Transfer garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper flakes and black pepper, and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over kale and toss very well to combine (dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat leaves).

4. Let salad sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with bread crumbs, additional cheese and a drizzle of oil.

Serves 2 to 4.

01
Feb
11

Quick Coq Au Vin

Two days ago, I visualized us holed up in a hotel room with pipes bursting at home and limbs all over the yard. The predictions about this wintry mix/blizzard have been SCARY. Just about everyone in St. Louis stayed home today bracing for the worst blizzard in decades. Jeff and I worked from home, Gabi ran around the house, and the blizzard never really came. There were no white out conditions. No power outages or strong winds. We didn’t end up hovering over a fondue pot and sterno, cooking chicken in cooking oil. We didn’t have to pack our bags and search for an inn. There was sleet, a bit of snow, a few wind gusts and that’s it.

Instead, Jeff and I are splitting a bottle of vino after finishing off this Coq au Vin. It was perfect for tonight. All the flavors here are hints. Mushrooms and shallots are infused with bacon and stewed in red wine. The sauce is spooned over crispy chicken, and garnished with chopped parsley. I love finding a recipe for something French and comforting like this that takes 45 minutes or less. A blizzard is still in the forecast. We could have 10 inches of snow tomorrow, according to all of the hyperventilation. I’m warm, toasty and doubtful.

Quick Coq Au Vin
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2010

4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
1 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, or 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
8 ounces large crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, halved
8 large shallots, peeled, halved through root end
3garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/2 cups dry red wine (such as Shiraz or Syrah)
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
4 teaspoons all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Sauté bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Add to drippings in skillet. Sauté until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side; transfer to a baking dish. Place in oven to keep warm.

Add mushrooms and shallots to skillet; season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic to skillet; toss 10 seconds. Add wine, 1 1/4 cups broth, bacon, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Boil 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour in small cup.

Add 1/4 cup broth, stirring until smooth. Add flour mixture to sauce. Cook until sauce thickens, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken on platter; stir juices from pie dish into sauce and spoon over chicken. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley.

Serve with a wedge of crusty bread.

Serves 4

07
Jan
11

Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo and Croutons

I have Georgina to thank for this one. She has fabulous food sense. She KNOWS what to do with parsnips. She has A ZILLION ideas for kale. She’s passed along a half dozen recipes that have become favorites around here. She’s mentioned this concoction, what, a half dozen times in the past three months? And it’s taken me this long to make it.

It was inspired by Deb on SmittenKitchen. Georgina then made her own version using Brussels sprouts instead of asparagus. I made it tonight, using pinto beans rather than white or cranberry beans that Deb used, simply because I had them already.

This would have been a super-quick meal had I not chosen to use dried beans. Canned beans — white, pintos or red kidney beans — are perfectly acceptable. In fact, I’d say preferrable because they’re faster and just as good as dried.

This was perfect for a Friday night — after a week of deadlines for Jeff, a radio interview and the beginnings of about four stories for me. I took comp time and left work early today. Snow was falling. I stopped at the grocery store before picking up Gabi and did some prep work quartering Brussels sprouts and slicing bread into croutons.

The meal came together in less than 10 minutes. The kitchen smelled of chorizo, and that’s always a good thing. We had whole almonds on hand — they’re worth buying for this if you don’t have them. Jeff and I ate this with a bottle of red wine. It was sort of Spanish, sort of seasonal, sort of  nothing like we’ve ever had before. It was wonderful. Thanks G!!

Brussel Sprouts with Chorizo and Croutons
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 pound Brussels sprouts, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
4 ounces chorizo cut into 3/4-inch slices
1 1/2 cups 3/4-inch bread cubes from a baguette or country bread loaf
1/4 cup whole almonds
1 cup cooked beans (such as cannelini, kidney or pinto)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Start cooking when you’re about ready to eat. Heat the oil in a large skillet or saute pan until very hot. Add all the ingredients except the beans, salt and pepper. Cover and saute over high heat for about 5 to 6 minutes, tossing or stirring the mixture a few times, so it browns and cooks on all sides. Add the beans, salt and pepper, and toss again. Serve.

Serves 4.


31
Oct
10

Chicken Korma

My friend Elie is moving to Peru. How cool is that? She was determined to do it months ago, even before she fell in love with a Peruvian photographer. And now she leaves in two weeks. Her house is rented, she’s sold most of her furniture and her ex-boyfriend has assumed custody of her dog.

I had Elie over for dinner last week. She came over on a Tuesday, which presented a small problem. Since she was coming over right after work, I needed to have my cooking done the night before. Fortunately, I have an amazing slow cooker — a friend gave it to me a couple of years ago. I love it so much I pet it sometimes.

Chicken korma is a mild north Indian dish that doesn’t require much prep work. After you chop the onion, mince the garlic and grate the ginger, you simply measure the spices and start sauteing everything. Korma is creamy and tangy. Cashews really draw out the flavor, which is dominated by a mix of ground coriander, cumin, tumeric, cayenne and a cinnamon stick. Some kormas call for yogurt. This one uses buttermilk. It’s as good (if not better) than any chicken curry you’ve had in any Indian restaurant.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can make this in a large pot on the stove, with the flame on low. But do consider getting a slow cooker. It’s a wonderful piece of equipment. It took less than 30 minutes for me to prep the ingredients, saute, and then hit the slow cook button on my machine. It cooked overnight, then waited in the fridge to be heated up for dinner.

Continue reading ‘Chicken Korma’




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