Archive for the 'herbs' Category

31
Jul
11

Succotash

I know a recipe is good if I’m still thinking about it three weeks later. Yesterday I picked up six ears of corn at the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market because I needed to make this again. Sweet corn kernels, limas, garbanzos, tomatoes tossed with tarragon and a champagne vinaigrette. It’s so amazingly addictive. Hands down, this is my favorite find this summer.

I adapted this from a recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website.  There is a lot of wiggle room here — grill the corn, or boil it. Use other varieties of beans, such as fava, or use different herbs. But please, do include tarragon. The hint of licorice and the sweet tang of the vinaigrette is what really make this work.

I took some of this over to my friend Christine, who had twin boys five months ago. Yes, it’s taken me five months to take food to her. I also took her my mom’s chicken tetrazzini — 80’s comfort food at its best.  Better late than never, right?

And few things are better than summer veggies in late July. Sweet corn, multi-colored tomatoes, fragrant herbs. Before I turn you loose with this recipe, know that this may take longer to make than you’d expect. Plan for 45 minutes if you use corn on the cob. The only problem here is you’ll end up with more vinaigrette than you’ll need. This is best at room temperature. I can say with near certainty that it’s nothing like the succotash you grew up with.

Succotash
adapted from Williams-Sonoma.com

For the Champagne vinaigrette:

1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 T Champagne vinegar
2 T Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper

Succotash

6 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
3 to 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups frozen lima beans
1 1/2 cups frozen edamame
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced
10 to 12 cherry or tear-drop tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 T chopped fresh basil
2 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

To make the vinaigrette, in a bowl, combine the grapeseed oil and olive oil in a measuring cup with a spout. In a nonaluminum bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt and white pepper. Add the oils in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Use immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Bring a pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil corn for 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water. Remove kernels with a paring knife, running the knife down the cob vertically. Put corn in a large bowl. Boil edamame and lima beans according to package instructions.

In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels, chickpeas, lima beans, vine-ripened and teardrop tomatoes, basil, parsley, tarragon and onion. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and black pepper.

Serve with the remaining vinaigrette on the side. Serves 6 to 8.

07
Jul
11

Green Beans with Shaved Onion, Fried Almonds and Iberico Cheese

This past weekend, Jeff got up at 6:30 a.m. and began the 14-hour task of smoking a brisket. It was an 8-pounder — a week’s worth of sandwiches. As wonderful as the tender brisket was (we could pull it apart with forks), four days later we have become brisket-ed out. Too much meat, I must say. But the beans I could eat forever.

These were my contribution to the meal, plus homemade white bread. Honestly, It’s hard to find a green beans worth blogging about. I typically fall back on sauteing them with shallots and slivered almonds. This Spanish combination of red onion, fried almonds, herbs and Iberico cheese is a different twist and one that must replace the shallots-and-almonds stand by. Manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses work well here, too.

Slicing the onion as thin as humanly possible is key here. If you have a mandolin, use it. Or, consider buying an inexpensive hand-held one.

These beans were toddler approved. We adults loved them too.

Green Beans with Shaved Onion, Fried Almonds and Iberico Cheese
adapted, just slightly, from Olives and Oranges

1/4 plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup whole raw almonds
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound green beans, trimmed
5 ounces Iberico cheese (or Manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano), rind removed, cut into 1/3- to 1/2-inch irregular chunks
1 small red onion, thinly sliced or shaved on a mandoline or vegetable slicer
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley, basil, oregano, and/or any combination of herbs

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add almonds and cook, shaking skillet back and forth every now and then until nuts are golden and start to pop, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and stir. Remove nuts from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Then coarsely chop.

Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to a boil. Add beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and immediately toss beans with remaining 1/4 cup oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Add cheese, onion and herbs. Toss well. Let sit for a few minutes, then toss with almonds and serve.

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

23
Jan
11

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

We’re on Week 2 of what seems like constant snowfall. At least five inches fell about 10 days ago. Then eight inches fell last week. Another two inches or so fell today. Yesterday afternoon, I rushed out to the store with the rest of St. Louis to stock up on bread, milk, eggs, and — ahem — cannelloni noodles.

When it snows, we stay in. Gabi started walking last month. She’s not exactly ready to go bounding out into the snow. So, we spend a lot of  time pointing at it from inside.  Today, while Jeff and Gabi played in the living room, I cooked. I baked cinnamon raisin bread (post will follow later this week). I took my second stab at vanilla yogurt. And, I make this spinach cannelloni for dinner.

I’ve been thinking about this dish since summer. I bought this Jamie Oliver cookbook when the weather was quite hot — too hot for cannelloni.  It’s been in my head ever since. There are several reasons to try this one. First, this is a pretty simple cannelloni recipe. No bechamel sauce is necessary. Boiling the noodles isn’t either. And, the end result is wonderful in every way. The cannelloni is warm, melty, delicious. The noodles are a bit crispy on top. The spinach and ricotta make a light and super yummy filling. On a snow day like today — it is perfect.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
adapted from Jamie’s Dinners: The Essential Family Cookbook

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
handful of fresh oregano or marjoram, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
8 large handfuls spinach (about 3 large bunches), thoroughly washed
handful of fresh basil, stalks reserved and chopped, leaves torn
28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
salt and freshly ground pepper
pinch of sugar
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
16 cannelloni tubes
7 ounces mozzarella, broken up

For the white sauce
1 cup creme fraiche
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Find baking pan large enough to fit cannelloni in one layer, if possible.

In a medium saucepan, heat butter on high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, one of the sliced garlic cloves, a handful of the chopped oregano or marjoram, and the nutmeg. Saute for about 2 minutes. Add spinach in batches. Use tongs to turn it over, and add more as it cooks down.

Cook spinach for 5 minutes. Then, put the spinach into a large bowl and allow it to cool. Return the pan to heat, add a bit of olive oil, the other clove of sliced garlic, basil stalks and the chopped tomatoes. Pour tomato juice from the can into the pan. Add about a cup of water. Bring to boil. Turn the heat down, add a pinch of salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until you have a loose tomato sauce. Take the pan off the heat and add the basil leaves.

Squeeze excess water from the spinach, but keep the liquid in the bowl. Finely chop the spinach and put it back into the bowl. Mix it with the liquid.  Add the ricotta and 1/2 cup Parmesan, stir to combine. Fill the cannelloni with the spinach mixture. You can do this with a piping bag, or fill a plastic sandwich bag, twist the bag so the filling is pushed into on corner,  cut a hole in the corner and squeeze. Or, use your fingers to stuff the noodles.

Pour the tomato sauce into the baking dish. Put the filled cannelloni on top of the sauce. Arrange in one layer so the noodles are snug.

To make the white sauce, mix together the creme fraiche and the cup of Parmesan with a pinch of salt and pepper. Loosen the sauce with a little water until you can spoon it over the cannelloni. Sprinkle withremaining Parm and te mozzarella pieces, and back for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

21
Sep
10

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

The kitchen sink became clogged over the weekend. For two days we couldn’t use it. After spending what seemed like hours plunging it, pouring boiling water down the drain, and trying to fix the problem with a baking soda and vinegar solution, we called the plumber. Turns out the problem wasn’t a simple clog, but our 100-year-old pipe that had corroded and leaked beneath our basement floor. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but the long and short of it is this:  It’s now fixed.

Before the sink debacle, I went to the Tower Groves Farmers Market for one last tomato fix. Our tomato plants have stopped producing. It’s the tail end of the season. So, I stocked up one last time. I grabbed a mix of heirlooms, red onion and carrots for this cream of tomato soup. I’ve been wanting to try it since Christmas, when I received the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook. It’s almost cruel to receive a cookbook in December with this recipe, knowing it will be months before tomatoes would be in season. Cream of tomato soup has been on my to-do list ever since.

And let me tell you, it is awesome. The soup is smooth with several layers of flavor. There’s the hint of basil and garlic. The sweetness of the carrots enhances the tomatoes.  The onion adds a subtle bite. It would be easy to skip the Parmesan croutons, but don’t cut this corner. They’re essential. They absorb the soup and they add crunch. Yum!

Continue reading ‘Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup’

13
Sep
10

Chunky Butternut Squash, White Bean and Tomato Soup

We’re back from Colorado. It was great — cool air, dry, and beautiful. A nice break from the muggy end of summer in St. Louis. Gabi sprouted a molar, which meant little sleep for everyone. Even so, we had family who could babysit. We took some short hikes. It was a nice break from the house and work.

Before we left, Jeff gave me an early birthday present: a fancy new camera. I’ve already taken a couple hundred pictures of pine trees, mountains, deer. Gabi, who turns one in about a week, is in most of them. And today I took some shots of this nourishing soup.

I love this soup. It’s easy to throw together on a weeknight. It can be made in advance and stored for several days. It has a slight hint of sweetness, it’s hearty and it’s comforting. I highly recommend the roasted pumpkin seeds. The crunch adds texture, and the salt makes the soup even better.

Of course, this time of year I can’t wait for winter squash. Butternut and acorn started appearing at farmers markets in mid-August. But this was one of the hottest summers on record in St. Louis.  I never feel right using winter squash when its 90 degrees.

Continue reading ‘Chunky Butternut Squash, White Bean and Tomato Soup’

04
Sep
10

Eggplant Caponata

I know what you’re thinking. Seriously? More eggplant??

Eggplants are like bay leaves. I use them all the time but don’t really know what they taste like. As long as they’re in season, they’re on our counter.

All summer, I’ve wanted to make caponata, a Sicilian dish that’s usually served as a salad or relish. There are a gazillion variations of this, but generally it’s comprised of eggplant, onion, tomatoes, capers, olives, nuts, anchovies, vinegar and olive oil (I skip the anchovies). It’s one of those foods that improves with time. You make it, put it in the refrigerator for 8 hours or more, and then serve.

This one has almonds and pine nuts, which lend a nice crunch. The flavors are strong. I prefer it on toasted bread, but you could eat it as a relish or salad. Serve at room temperature.

Continue reading ‘Eggplant Caponata’




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