Flashback Friday – Notes On A Recipe Bon Appetit Shrimp and Garlicky Beans with Feta

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 4/20/09 at Exit 51.

Notes On A Recipe – Bon Appetit Shrimp and Garlicky Beans with Feta

Every dog may have its day, but there’s no telling how long that day may be in coming.  If that dog happens to be named Bon Appetit’s Garlicky Beans with Feta and Mint, it is my sincere hope that I never see that day in my lifetime.  Since going all South Beach in the kitchen, I have tried to overcome my dislike of garbanzo beans.  There’s something about their texture that just does not work for me.  They’re not gritty on the tongue but they’re not smooth either.  Maybe because they are unlike any other food I enjoy eating, I can’t get past my consistency prejudice. And calling them chickpeas isn’t fooling me.

BA Shrimp

The most outrageous thing about my hate/hate relationship with garbanzo beans is that I like hummus.  Crazy right?  I should clarify that position.  Plain hummus elicits my anti-garbanzo stance.  But add a good helping of roasted red peppers to the recipe (to mask the chickpea) and I will gladly double dip my veggies all the livelong day.

When I read the Garlicky Beans with Feta and Mint recipe in that new cookbook of mine, I thought maybe I had found a way to move past the hate.  It might have two cans of chickpeas, but it’s also got an entire cup of feta cheese.  On a daily basis, I cannot find enough ways to love feta.  Especially a nice chunk of French Feta soaking in sharp brine.  For real, if there is a heaven,  I hope they stock the French Feta from Wegmans.

I decided to make the fetafied beans the base for Bon Appetit’s Shrimp with Shallot Tarragon Sauce.  That recipe actually calls for it to be served on a bed of wilted spinach.  But I was trying to stack the deck so that maybe, just maybe, the entire meal wouldn’t be a bust if I couldn’t embrace the beans.

In theory, it was a good idea.  In reality, not so much.  Aside from the fact that even French Feta doesn’t have enough superpowers to make chickpeas taste like anything other than chickpeas, the mint in the beans really did not work with the flavors of the shrimp.

Let us also consider the implications of having one cup of feta cheese, a quarter of a stick of butter, and cream in a single meal.  Rich?  That would be an understatement.  Instead of being silky and luscious, it was heavy.  I thought about subbing out the butter for a butter blend product instead, to try and keep the dish as South Beach friendly as possible, but ended up going with the real deal although I did use half in half instead of heavy cream.  And still, it was too much.

Maybe the wilted spinach works to balance the richness of the sauce and my substitution doomed the dish from the get go?  Who knows?  I do know that I won’t be trying this combo again.  The shrimp I will give another chance to win me over.  Add the spinach, take out the butter and cream all together, and I think I’ve got a good weeknight dinner option.  As long as that dog named Garlicky Beans with Feta and Mint doesn’t come barking around,I think we’ll be just fine.

Garlicky Beans with Feta and Mint

Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh

  • 2 15 oz to 16 oz cans garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combined first 4 ingredients in 11×7×2 inch glass baking dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to blend.  Bake until heated through and beans begin to crisp on top, about 15 minutes.  Mix in cheese and mint.

Shrimp with Shallot Tarragon Sauce on Wilted Spinach

Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh

  • 10 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons oilve oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 5 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 large)
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 6oz package fresh baby spinach

Toss shrimp, parsley, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 teaspoons tarragon, and 1 teaspoon ginger in medium bowl.  Sprinkle mixture with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots; saute 5 minutes.  Add shrimp mixture; saute until shrimp are almost cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Add butter and cream; bring just to simmer.  Add remaining 1 teaspoon ginger.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set shrimp aside.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in another large nonstick skillet over high heat.  Add spinach and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss until just wilted; about 30 seconds.  Mound spinach in center of plates; surround with shrip and sauce. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 2 teaspoons tarragon.

Idaho Potato Pomme Frites

J’adore les pomme frites. J’ai toujours. Mais je ne les fait à partir de zéro, parce qu’ils étaient trop démunis. Le trempage. Buvard. Friture. Double friture. Eaiser juste ouvrir un sac de surgelés ou les ignorer complètement.

My education in Le Francais  stopped about 20 years ago.  If Google Translate is to be trusted…and let’s be honest, it’s to be trusted more than I am…I said that {translation} I adore French Fries.  I always have. But I never made them from scratch because they were too needy.  Soaking.  Blotting.  Frying.  Double Frying.  Eaiser to just open a bag of frozen or skip them entirely.  {end translation}.

Why am I going all fancy with Le Francais to talk about French Fries?  To demonstrate that something as unassuming as an Idaho potato can be transformed into a dish that feels indulgent and maybe just the slightest bit exotic.

I’m not going to lie, these are still a little needy.  You have to slice the potato tres, tres thinly and then turn those thin slices into itty bitty matchsticks.  And you can only cook so many matchsticks on a sheet pan at a time otherwise they will steam instead of roast.

But here’s the good news. A single Idaho potato will make an entire batch that can serve one happily, or two if you absolutely must share.

Curry Spiced Pomme Frites

BAH Note:  Yes, I really am going to advocate that you buy a jar of coconut oil for this recipe.  These frites are so delicate that I think olive oil would completely overwhelm them.  The coconut oil is delightfully neutral and can stand up to the super high oven temperature.  Also, if you have a smoke detector anywhere near your kitchen, you may want to remove the battery while you make these.  The high temperature sets mine off.  Every single time.

  • 1 Idaho Russet potato (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • kosher salt

Heat the oven to 415 degrees and line a sheet pan with baking parchment.

Combine the coconut oil and curry powder in a shallow dish and set aside.

Slice the potato very thinly lengthwise, into approximately 1/8 inch slices, on a mandoline or with a sharp knife. Pat the slices dry with paper towels and then cut the slices into super fine matchsticks.  Gently coat the matchsticks with the curry and coconut oil mixture.

Place a single layer of pomme frites onto the prepared sheet pan and bake for 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  You want them to brown but not get completely charred.  Remove the pan from the oven and immediately sprinkle the pomme frites with a pinch of kosher salt.

Continue to bake the remaining pomme frites in batches and shoving them directly in your mouth.

{printable recipe}

Disclaimer:  This post is being entered into a contest sponsored by The Idaho Potato Commission in celebration of February being Potato Lover’s Month.  I was compensated for participating but all opinions expressed are completely my own.

Flashback Friday – Notes On Cooking With SFC

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 3/25/09 at Exit 51.

Notes On Cooking With SFC

Each week, SFC picks one meal that he will cook.  As hard as it is for me not to jump in and take over on these nights, I really do like the days when I’m just the sous chef.  I’m much happier sitting on the couch turning the pages of a book than standing over a stove whisking or reducing.

Chili Rub

We did have to establish one major rule though.  The first time we make a recipe, we do not deviate from it as written.  No substitutions, no omission, no tinkering with technique.  Ok, so maybe we do allow minor substitution and omissions.  But we do not deviate from technique.  It may sound a bit harsh but how can someone new to cooking know what steps are critical and what steps are negotiable?  I’ve been standing at the stove for years and I still try and stick to this rule anytime I try a new recipe.

And here’s why.  If I don’t try and create a dish as specified by the author, how can I form an accurate opinion about whether it’s worth making again?  If I don’t like the results, is it because of the recipe itself or is it because in tinkering with it, I broke something that did not need fixing?

SFC’s most recent meal is my latest case study.  In theory, it should have been outstanding.  But after dinner, we both looked at each other and said it was missing something.  I’m not sure what this elusive something is.  Maybe more spice?  Maybe more heat?  But it definitely needs the volume turned up.  And I don’t understand what the marinade really does for the dish, besides give you the 20 minutes to make the salsa.  Maybe next time we will make more spice rub and skip the marinading.

For now, this recipe is tagged with a question mark and goes back into the test folder.  It’s got one more chance to impress me because in my kitchen, a recipe rarely gets a third try.

Chili Rubbed Salmon with Pineapple Avocado Salsa

From washingtonpost.com

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 2 (4 to 6 ounces each) skin-on or skinless salmon fillets, pin bones removed
  • 1 lime, for garnish
  • 4 ounces fresh or canned pineapple, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice (1/2 cup)
  • Flesh of half a medium avocado, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 scallion, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into thin slices (about 2 to 3 teaspoons)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1 to 2 limes (to yield 1 tablespoon)

Combine the oil and vinegar in a shallow dish.

Combine the chili powder, salt and sugar in a small bowl. Use it to rub the salmon fillets all over, gently pressing it into the flesh, then place the fillets in the oil-vinegar mixture. Turn them over so both sides are coated; let them marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes while you prepare the salsa.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the pineapple, avocado, scallion, pepper, salt and the tablespoon of lime juice in a mixing bowl; toss to mix well.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet that is ovenproof over medium-high heat. (Alternatively, lightly grease an ovenproof baking dish with nonstick cooking oil spray.)

When the pan is hot, add the fillets (if skin-on, place them skin side up) and cook for 1 minute. Turn them over, then transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes per inch of thickness or to desired degree of doneness.

Remove from the oven; use a wide spatula to transfer each piece to individual plates. Spoon the salsa on top of each fillet. Cut the remaining lime in half and squeeze over each portion. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Hash

No, no, you’re not caught in a time loop.  You did just see that chicken two days ago.  But this is the only photo that shows the sweet potato and Brussells sprout hash that went with the chicken.  So the photo gets to make an encore appearance.

Hash.  What exactly is it?  According to the all knowing google, it is a dish of cooked meat cut into small pieces and recooked, usually with potatoes.  The only problem is that the amount of meat vs. the amount of vegetables I consume is pretty frightening.  Ideally, the ratio should be reversed which shouldn’t be hard because I actually LIKE vegetables.  I just run out of ideas of how to fix them.  So as a result, they waste away in the fridge, or on the counter, until they are beyond possible consumption.  Yes, I am guilty of wasting food.  There, I’ve said it.

So how does hash address my status as a repeat offender when it comes to wasting food and get me to up my servings of veggies?  Simply by being.  Hash is a godsend when it comes to using up vegetables that have been neglected.  Don’t know what to do with that sad sweet potato that you didn’t use the other week?  Got a carrot or two left in the crisper?  What about an onion?  Did your plan of pan roasted Brussells sprouts not materialize?  You’ve got everything you need for hash.  What other vegetables are hash friendly?

According to Pam Anderson, in her book Meatless Meals, mushrooms, corn (fresh or frozen), eggplant, turnips, and butternut squash are all prime candidates.  She’s the one who introduced me to the concept of meatless hash.  So whether I want a side dish to go with one of my meaty meals, or I want a satisfying meat free option, all I have to do is open the fridge and see what vegetables need some love.

Sweet Potato Hash

Adapted from Pam Anderson’s Meatless Meals

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pound (one medium or large) sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts thinly sliced  (stems trimmed, outer layer of leaves removed)

Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Add the sweet potato, onion, and Brussels sprouts and stir to coat with the oil.

Place a lid on the frying pan and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook for approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables have softened but your thickest vegetables are still just a bit firm.  Remove the lid, stir the vegetables in the pan, increase the heat back to medium high and cook until the liquid evaporates and the vegetables begin to caramelize.

Once the vegetables have browned on the bottom, stir them gently to try and get the browned sides up.  Continue cooking, without stirring, until the vegetables are as browned as you want them.  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

{printable recipe}

Melissa’s Creamy Crock Pot Polenta

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the States.  It’s going to be an especially challenging day for me.  A day that will require me to remember to Be Brave.  But it’s a day that celebrates gratitude.  And despite all of the ups and downs of the year, or maybe because of them, I am acutely aware of the bounty that I have been given.

I hope that your Thanksgiving finds you surrounded by those that matter to you.  Those that are close to your heart.  And that you cook, and share, something that warms you.

Creamy Crock Pot Polenta

Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

BAH Note: Do yourself a favor and make a double batch of this polenta.  The first time I made it, I only made a single batch.  And as soon as dinner was over and the crock pot was empty I wished I had more.  I brought back a bag of course stone ground white grits from our trip to Georgia thinking I would love substituting them for the cornmeal.  I was wrong.  It took more than 4 hours for those damned grits to cook into a soft pudding and I didn’t like their texture nearly as much as the supermarket cornmeal.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/3 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (optional)

Lightly coat the insert of your crock pot with cooking spray, or a thin film of canola oil, and turn your crockpot to high.

Combine the milk, 1 cup half and half, 1 tablespoon butter, cornmeal, and a pinch of kosher salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 2 – 3 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the crock pot, cover, and cook on high for two hours or until the cornmeal has softened and the mixture has thickened into a soft, loose pudding.  Once or twice per hour, stir the mixture.  Just before serving, whisk in the remaining half and half, butter, and parmesan (if using).  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt to taste.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Crush

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 2/11/09 at Exit 51.

Crush

Who was the first person you had a crush on?  It’s ok, I won’t tell anyone.  Me?  My first crush was probably Shawn Cassidy.  Yes, I grew up surrounded by Tiger Beat and Teen Beat magazine hotties.  Oddly enough, I was not allowed to buy those magazines. In hindsight, I think that may have shielded me from some less worthy crushes like Scott Baio, Kirk Cameron, and Duran Duran.

I still get crushes.  But let’s be honest, what are the odds of your crush ever turning into a real relationship?  Unless of course, you happen to be Katie Holmes and your crush is Tom Cruise.

tb10a

I find that more and more, I develop crushes on recipes.  They woo me with their online photos and descriptions until I can think of nothing else.  I am beholden to their charms.  And then, finally, I give them a chance.  Much like the fickle adolescent that I used to be, I tend to get over these crushes pretty quick.   The idea of them is better than the reality of them.  But some do turn into lasting relationships.  They are the TomKat of my cooking world.

Here’s my latest crush.  I can’t decide whether it’s a keeper or not.  I think I need to give it one more chance to win me over.

Crushed Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Ginger
The Washington Post, From executive chef Ethan McKee of Rock Creek at Mazza.

The dish can be fully assembled, then cooled, covered and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. To reheat, cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • 4 large (3 pounds) sweet potatoes, scrubbed well, then cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 10 to 12 cloves garlic (from 1 head)
  • 1 cup nonfat vegetable broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar substitute or light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a large, lidded baking dish.

Combine the potatoes, herb sprigs and garlic in the baking dish. Pour the vegetable broth over and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Cover (or use aluminum foil, wrapped tightly) and bake for 1 hour or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork and the garlic is tender.

Transfer to the stovetop; discard the herb sprigs and use a potato masher to crush the vegetables. Add the grated ginger and the brown sugar substitute or brown sugar, stirring to mix well. Drizzle the oil over the top, mixing just to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve warm.

Peppers and Zucchini

This was one of those rare dishes that got a split decision in our house.  The Mistah, he says he is not much for zucchini.  Although he “claims” to like my curried zucchini soup.  And he devoured the zucchini and pepper quesedilla that I made last night.  So I don’t know what to think.

Actually, I know what I think.  I think this makes a lovely, light dish. It’s a refreshing change from the usual suspects that show up on our plates in the role of vegetables. And it’s versatile.  Serve it as a side dish; use it as a condiment to top a burger; transform it into an entree with some couscous or quinoa.

So pay no mind to The Mistah and his zucchini fickleness.  Peppers and zucchini will give you a taste of summer any time of the year.

Peppers and Zucchini

Adapted from Bon Appetit – Fast, Easy, Fresh

BAH Note:  I started out to make a poblano rajas with zucchini.  Bon Appetit – Fast, Easy, Fresh describes rajas as roasted chile strips cooked with onion and spices.  But they wanted me to add a half cup of cream to the vegetables.  And I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.  I also neglected to add any seasoning other than kosher salt.  Maybe when I go to heat up the leftovers, I will add a pinch of ancho chili powder.

While I think this recipe is pretty SB friendly, if I wanted to make it completely South Beachy, I would use olive oil, or a combination of butter and olive oil to sautee the vegetables.

  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Place a rack directly under your broiler and line it with a sheet of foil.  Place the poblano chiles and red peppers on the foil.  Broil until the exterior is completely charred, carefully turning them as needed.  Transfer them to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.  Carefully remove the charred skin (and seeds if you like) and roughly chop the peppers.

Heat the butter in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the chopped peppers, zucchini, and onions.  Saute until the onions are translucent and the zucchini is tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

{printable recipe}