Archive Page 2

09
Jun
11

Spinach and Feta Strata

I’ve begun cooking my way through Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day. I LOVE this cookbook. I’m determined to make everything in it, from the little quinoa patties to the honey and rose water tapioca. Like most of Heidi’s recipes, this spinach and feta strata makes you feel full of energy. It’s chock full of good things. It tastes great. On top of that, it’s quick and easy.

Every now and then, an occasion arises when an impressive breakfast is needed, something that’s pre-made but also fresh from the oven. It’s been nice these past two weeks NOT having one of those occasions. It was just Jeff, Gabi and me pattering around the house. But because I consider the two of them worthy of above-average breakfasts, I popped this in the oven over Memorial Day weekend and it fed us for two days .

Another thing I love about this is you make it the night before. As you sleep, the bread soaks up the eggy milk mixture. I love the spinach in this, but you could also use chard. The feta blends in nicely, adding a bit of saltiness. To top it off, I snipped some fresh herbs growing outside and crumbled them on top.

Absolutely delish.

Spinach and Feta Strata
slightly adapted from Super Natural Every Day

Zest from 1 lemon, grated
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk
6 large eggs
3 cups day-old whole wheat bread cubes (1/2-inch)
2 cups finely chopped spinach or chard
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

Drizzle a little olive oil in a 9 x 9-inch baking dish (or equivalent). Sprinkle the pan with the lemon zest.

In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper with a splash of the milk. Whisk in the rest of the milk and eggs.

Put the bread in the prepared baking dish and top with the spinach and half of the feta. Gently toss this with your hands so that the spinach and feta mix with the bread. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and sprinkle with the remaining feta. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the top third of the oven.

Bake the strata uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes, until the egg is set in the middle and the sides are browned. You may need to cut into the middle for a test to see that it’s done. (Optional: put the strata under the broiler on low setting before removing from the oven just to brown the top a bit more.)

Serve warm, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkling of chopped fresh oregano.

Serves 6.

02
Jun
11

Macadamia Encrusted Mahimahi with Mango Salsa

Daniel got married in Maui a few weeks ago and sent us these amazing macadamia nuts. Now that it’s nearly impossible to spend more than 2 hours on an airplane (due to our squirmy little G), we’ve been invited this year to weddings in San Diego, Malaysia, Peru and Maui. I was musing about this on Facebook recently when Daniel chimed in, trying to entice me even more with macadamia nuts. As if an ocean and the beach weren’t enough, along with some amazing Kona coffee, frozen grapes and an oceanside maitai.

Since we’re stuck here for a while, Daniel sent us macadamias and some Kona coffee. It was a lovely thing to do, especially considering how crazy things are the week of a wedding. I’d forgotten how much I love super fresh macadamias. They reminded Jeff and me of our honeymoon six years ago, when were zipping around the Big Island in a convertible, sun burnt,  munching on macadamias and Hawaiian bread. How I wish we could have been at Daniel and Marianne’s wedding.

Instead, Jeff and I made this encrusted mahimahi with mango salsa. The flavors were very Hawaii and very delicious, but  nevertheless  a distant second to a wedding in Maui.

Yet this was so good that I made it twice last month.

The recipe is fairly simple. Marinate the fish in lime juice, but be sure not to let the fish soak for more than one to two hours. Coat the fish in butter, dip in a mixture of panko, chopped macadamias and cilantro, and then bake until crispy. YUM! The mango salsa is incredible with it.

Macadamia Encrusted Mahimahi with Mango Salsa
Bon Appetit, June 1991

1 10-ounce mahimahi fillet (1 inch thick), skinned, halved crosswise
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Place mahimahi in shallow dish. Pour lime juice over. Marinate 1 hour, and no more than two hours, turning fish over occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine panko and next 3 ingredients in small bowl. Mix in 2 tablespoons butter. Season generously with pepper. Pour remaining 2 tablespoons butter into shallow baking dish. Remove mahimahi from marinade and place in baking dish, turning to coat with butter. Spoon panko mixture atop fish, dividing evenly. Press topping gently to adhere. Bake until fish is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve.

Serves 2.

Mango Salsa
Bon Appetit, September 1998

2 cups chopped pitted peeled mango (if you’ve never diced a mango, consult this online tutorial)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons olive oil

Mix everything in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

29
May
11

Spring Asparagus Stir Fry

This is the first weekend in two months that isn’t dominated by something pressing.  Our hardwood floors are now refinished. The furniture is moved back in, the books finally back on bookshelves, and the china in the china cabinet. Our nine-hour drive to visit my grandmother in central Kansas is over. We’ve spent a few days with my parents on the other side of the state. And then Jeff’s folks came. Not to mention, work has been INSANE juggling end-of-school-year stories and breaking news in urban education.

On Saturday, Gabi and I went to the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market and stocked up on asparagus.  Every spring Jeff and I crave green veggies so much that we nearly overdose on asparagus. We’re headed in that direction once again. Last weekend, I made stir-fried asparagus with oyster sauce for Jeff’s parents, and it was as delish as ever. Last night, I revisited this incredible asparagus stir fry I’d found on Heidi Swanson’s foodblog, 101cookbooks.com, and first tried three weeks ago. If you haven’t been to her site, it’s wonderful. So is her new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day. More on that later this week.

This stir fry has a little of everything as far as flavor goes. The asparagus and tofu dominate. Then you have heat from the ginger and crushed red pepper flakes, sweetness from the hoison sauce, tang from the lime zest and juice. Cashews provide texture, and mint and basil round it out. Hoison, by the way, is a thick sweet sauce widely used in Chinese cooking.

There are many things I love about Heidi Swanson’s recipes. The first is that they always make me feel good. The second is that you can easily mix and match ingredients without being too worried about it.

At the market, I bought a few handfuls of this tatsoi, with the intention of using it instead of chard or spinach. Tatsoi is a mild Asian green. It looks like a cross between bok choy and spinach, and works really well in stir fries.

Continue reading ‘Spring Asparagus Stir Fry’

27
May
11

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

It’s Memorial Day weekend. We’ve had hints of summer –a few humid, hot days — but  it’s definitely still spring. Case in point: rhubarb abounds. And strawberries are at full tilt. They’re the best kind of strawberries, the ones that are so red you can taste the color. We’ve had two weeks of incredible strawberries in our Fair Shares CSA box, and we’ve needed them. They’ve been mood lifters. For those of you who haven’t heard, we’ve had some pretty crummy weather in the Midwest this spring. Tornadoes everywhere. The sirens go off almost weekly it seems.

Fortunately, strawberries and rhubarb provide comfort.

The most obvious combination is this simple crumble. The strawberries and rhubarb almost melt into each other. It’s a fusion of sweet and tart. I made this for the first time in 2008. It’s so amazingly delicious that it’s an annual ritual.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Divine.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
slightly adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

For filling:

2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved (quartered if strawberries are large), about 6 cups
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices, about 4 1/2 cups
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

For topping:

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, slightly softened

Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 425° F.

Gently mix the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl. Spoon the mixture into a shallow 3-quart baking dish.

Stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Blend in butter with your fingers until mixture forms small clumps.

Crumble topping evenly over strawberries and rhubarb. Bake until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack and serve warm.

Serving suggestion: with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 8

13
May
11

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes

OK then. It’s been about a month since I’ve posted much. And for good reason. Last week we drove across Missouri and into central Kansas to see my grandmother, who is 94 and doing quite well. Then we drove across eastern Kansas to St. Joseph, Missouri to spend Mother’s Day weekend with my parents. Gabi had a rollicking good time in their yard, swinging on the red swing hung from a tree branch and having tea parties.

It was a wonderful week. In the process, we had our hardwood floors refinished. Getting everything out of our house to do this was a quite a production.  It took weeks.

Now that we’re back, with furniture and almost everything else back in place, I’m dying to cook. The first order of business is to make these pancakes again. We tried them last month and they were incredible. Lingonberry preserves give them a nice Scandinavian twist. Lingonberries are a staple in Sweden, and commonly served on pancakes. I found a jar at Whole Foods. Strawberry preserves would be great, too.

The oats and buttermilk make these pancakes extra special. They will easily burn, so watch the heat on your griddle or skillet. The batter can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator.

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes
Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups buttermilk, shaken
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra butter for brushing skillet
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Serve with: Lingonberry preserves

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, 1/4 cup melted butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add to dry ingredients. Whisk until blended but some small lumps remain. Let batter stand to thicken about two hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat. Brush skillet with melted butter. Working in batches, ladle batter by 1/4 cupfuls into skillet. Cook pancakes until bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet. Keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with more butter as necessary. Serve with lingonberry preserves.

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

20
Apr
11

Cheddar buttermilk biscuits

This is the kind of baking you tend to do when you’ve got a 1-year-old who likes cheese with every meal. She eats what we eat, but all too often that includes things I know she’ll love.

I baked these last weekend to go with a chicken and sausage jambalaya — a belated birthday meal for Jeff. Rather than cornbread or French bread, I chose these biscuits due to the cheese. Gabi was most grateful.

About a year ago, I blogged about cheddar and thyme muffins. I must say that these are far better. They’re flaky, moist, the cheese is a dominate flavor. And how could you go wrong with buttermilk? If you have fresh herbs, like thyme, chives or rosemary, chop up a handful and add them when you mix in the cheese. I have two pots of chives growing like gangbusters outside, so I added about one bunch.

Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits
slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
2 cold extra-large eggs
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 handful fresh herbs, such as chives, rosemary or thyme, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Place 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn mixer on low, add butter and mix until butter is the size of peas.

Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. In a small bowl, mix the cheddar with a small handful of flour and, with the mixer on low, add the cheese to the dough. Also add herbs if using. Mix ONLY until roughly combined.

Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly about six times. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 5 x 10 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make egg wash by beating 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water or milk.  Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with salt, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through.

Serve hot or warm.




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