Flashback Friday – Muscle

The following post was originally published on BAH on 28 August 2009.

A good amount of the disk space on our Tivo gets taken up with cooking shows. Food Network, PBS, I like to mix it all up. When I watch them, I frequently experience kitchen envy. Seriously, have you seen Paula Deen’s or Ina Garten’s kitchen? Dreamy. Multiple cooktops, deep fryers, and refrigerator drawers. Best of all are those professional stoves. 48 to 60 inches of high btu muscle with double ovens. They are the kitchen equivalent of the Ford Mustang in Steve McQueen’s Bullitt. High revving, rubber burning, wild horses. I so wish I could have one of those. My kitchen, in comparison, is more like a Honda Accord. It’s reliable for getting you where you need to go but would never win in a drag race.

Not that having fancy, expensive equipment means anything when it comes to serving up good food. Deb, who I heart, from Smitten Kitchen turns out the best food from a teeny, tiny New York City apartment kitchen. Think your kitchen is small? Try working in a 24 square foot space. That’s smaller than my closet. And yet, without the aid of fancy equipment, she turns out all sorts of baked, fried, and roasted goodness.

Like anything else, your equipment is a tool that either you know how to use or you don’t. That 48 inch Viking isn’t going to magically transform a bad dish into a good one. So work with what you have, find its muscle, and make it work for you. Your kitchen may not burn rubber like Steve McQueen’s Mustang, but it won’t need new tires as quickly either.

Oven Roasted Salmon

Cook’s Illustrated

I added paprika and chili powder, not original to the CI recipe.

  • 1 skin on salmon fillet, 1 3/4 – 2 pounds (I used two individual skinless fillets)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Salt

Place a sheet pan on an oven rack in the lowest position and heat oven to 500 degrees. If your salmon has skin, make 4 or 5 shallow slashes about an inch apart along the skin side of each piece.  Do not cut into the flesh.

Dry salmon with a paper towel, rub with oil and season with salt, paprika, and chili powder. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees and remove the HOT baking sheet. Carefully place salmon (skin side down) on your sheet pan. Roast until salmon is still translucent in the thickest part of fillets when cut into with paring knife or when an instant read thermometer inserted in thickest part of the fillets registers 125 degrees, 9 to 13 minutes. Transfer fillets to individual plates or platter.

{Printable Recipe}

Pineapple Avocado Salsa

The Washington Post

  • 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 (2 to 3 teaspoons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1 to 2 limes (1 tablespoon)

Combine the pineapple, avocado, scallion, salt, and lime juice in a mixing bowl. Toss to combine.

{Printable Recipe}

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Flashback Friday – Timing

The following post appeared on BAH on 10 August 2009.

Hot Stuff

In the kitchen, timing is everything. Food is done when it’s done. You get a little wiggle room with some dishes. Others are not so forgiving. Worst of all is when you’ve unknowingly overcooked something. Like that time I made baked eggs. I was expecting something along the lines of maybe a soft boiled or poached egg. What I got was tough and rubbery. Seriously, my fork kept bouncing off the whites as I tried to cut into them.

I did not pay attention to a cardinal rule of cooking – timing involves more than watching a clock. Yes, paying attention to how long a recipe says it will take is important. But so is paying attention to how it smells and looks. Every time SFC is cooking, I try and explain not to just go by how many minutes are on the timer but to use all the senses. Clearly, I need to remember my own words.

Baked Eggs in Tomato Parmesan Sauce

Martha Stewart Everyday Food, as posted on thebittenword.com

I scaled the recipe to make two servings. If I can get this to work they way I think it’s supposed to, I bet it would make a great brunch dish or an easy weeknight dinner.

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set two 12 ounce ovenproof bowls on a large rimmed baking sheet.

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium flame. Add garlic and rosemary; cook, stirring until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes with juice, crushed tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons parmesan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide tomato sauce between bowls, reserving 1/2 cup. Crack 2 eggs into each bowl and top with reserved sauce and 2 tablespoons parmesan. Bake until egg whites are just opaque, yolks should still be soft, 24 to 28 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through.

{Printable Recipe}

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.

Flashback Fridy – Holy Mole

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 4/15/09 at Exit 51.

Holy Mole

Forgive me, for I have sinned.  I have been unfaithful…to my Chicken Mole.  I’m sure that as indiscretions go, this one is pretty minor.  But I can’t help myself.  Even though I already have a perfectly fine South Beach recipe for Chicken Mole, when I spotted Oxana Chicken Mole listed in the Bon Appetit cookbook, temptation led me astray.

Holy Mole

I felt bad as I gathered the ingredients.  I knew that what I was doing was wrong.  But it was exciting.  As I cut and measured and prepped, I wondered if Oxana and I were always meant to be together.  I wondered what the future held for us.  I heated the pan over a medium flame and wondered if South Beach would try to get me back.  The chicken went into the pan and I wondered if it was too late to turn back.  The air filled with the scent of cinnamon, cumin, and chili and I knew I could not stop, even if I wanted to.  Tomatoes and chocolate joined the party and as the sauce deepened to a dark, ruddy red, my anticipation grew.

Simmer, bubble, stir.  At last, it was time.  Nervously, I filled my bowl and inhaled Oxana’s deep, spicy aroma.  That first taste lingered on my tongue, robust; then an explosion of heat, as my spoon went back for more.   By the time it was done, I knew I could not let Oxana slip away, never to be tasted again.

I’m not sure how long it will be till we’re  together, but until we are I will ask for forgiveness.  And then I’ll go and do it all again.

Oxana Chicken Mole

Bon Appetit Fast, Easy, Fresh

The recipe below is as it appears in the book.  Instead of cooking the chicken breasts whole, I cut them into cubes and cooked them until they were done before removing them from the pan.  I don’t know about you, but in my kitchen, chicken takes more than about 2 minutes per side to cook.  Adjust the spices as you like.  I found that with the exception of the chili powder, I used more than stated.  That includes the chocolate.  Please note that unsweetened chocolate is not the same as cocoa powder.  Look for a bar of unsweetened (baking) chocolate.  This recipe doubles very easily.

  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 14 oz to 16 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 1/4 ounce unsweetened chocolate

Sprinkle chicken with 1 teaspoon chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Heat oil in heavy medium skillet, over medium high heat.  Add chicken and saute until brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to plate.  Add remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon to skillet; stir 15 seconds.  Mix in tomatoes with juice and chocolate; simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Return chicken to skillet; simmer until just cooked through and sauce thickens slightly, about 4 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Flashback Friday – Blind Date

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 3/16/09 at Exit 51

Blind Date

Recipe testing is the culinary equivalent of blind dating.  You hear about a hot new recipe and instantly know you are meant to be together.  You begin to doodle your initials  and “I Heart” on grocery lists and daydream how wonderful your life together will be.  You get lost thinking about how intoxicating he will smell and what it will be like when your lips finally meet.  Will you be able to control yourself?  Or will you just have to go back for more?

blind-date

Then, the day of the date, you get everything together just so and count down the minutes until the bell rings.  Finally, the moment has arrived.  You open the door with eager anticipation and there he is.  But it’s downhill from there.  You want to like him.  Really, you do.  But despite all the positive things you heard from other people, he’s not what you expected.  To put it another way, you’re just not that into him.

That describes my brief relationship with Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp.  I first came across the recipe at Orangette and it piqued my curiousity.  And then I bumped into it again at The Amateur Gourmet.   And in an ‘all roads lead back to Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp instant’, I decided that fate wanted us to be together.

Boy, did fate get that one wrong.  I can’t say there is  any one reason in particular why I don’t love this dish.  I know I should.  It took all of about five minutes to prep and in less time than it takes for Rachel Ray to drive me to find the remote, the entire meal is done.  So it’s quick.  And the ingredient list is about as minimal as you can get for a one dish meal…broccoli, meet shrimp…shrimp, meet broccoli.  The cooking technique could not get any easier…heat oven, open oven door, insert sheet pan…lather, rinse, repeat.

But seriously, I just am not that into it.  Maybe with some different spices, or more of them, I would have that lovin’ feeling.  Or maybe  it just wasn’t meant to be for me and Broccoli and Roasted Shrimp.  Perhaps the two of you would enjoy each other’s company?  Let me know how it goes, I love a good blind date story.

Roasted Broccoli with Shrimp

thewednesdaychef.com

  • 2 pounds broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot chili powder
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss broccoli with 2 tablespoons oil, coriander, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and chili powder. In a separate bowl, combine shrimp, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Spread broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Add shrimp to baking sheet and toss with broccoli. Roast, tossing once halfway through, until shrimp are just opaque and broccoli is tender and golden around edges, about 10 minutes more. Serve with lemon wedges, or squeeze lemon juice all over shrimp and broccoli just before serving.

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.

Crab and Avocado Salad

Take a look at that picture.  Does that look like “diet” food to you?  It sure doesn’t taste like “diet” food.

I need to reacquaint myself with some “diet” food.  The crush of buttery, sugary, fatty, and carby treats over the last twelve months has had a negative impact on my bottom line.  Seems like there are new jiggles daily.  I’ve started naming them.  So far my collection includes cinnamon roll, pumpkin spice muffins, butter, mac and cheese, and carnitas.  I need to stop the madness before I morph into someone unrecognizable.

I’m asking The Universe to give me the strength to avoid the devil of temptation that masquerades as cupcakes, french fries and boxes of wine.  Without some divine intervention, they are sure to be my downfall.

While I may be abstaining from these wonderful things for a while, I still have all kinds of tasty dishes lingering in the queue for your enjoyment.  So don’t be confused if I’m still talking about tarts, brownies, or pasta.  Most have been waiting to post for a while.  Others may be things I’ve made in moments of weakness.  But I vow never to say which is which.

Crab and Avocado Salad

Adapted from South Beach Quick and Easy

BAH Note: I suppose this could serve four people as an appetizer.  But The Mistah and I like to enjoy this as an entree and we can polish off the entire salad in one sitting.  Not that this recipe needs much streamlining but if you wanted to prep things ahead, get the crab meat and lettuce ready in a large bowl and have your dressing fixed up in a separate container in the fridge.  Then all you have to do is shake, pour, add the avocado, and serve.

Prefer to have your salad with some carby goodness? That’s easy.  Just reduce the amount of dressing you add to the salad so that it’s not “wet” before rolling it up in a soft tortilla , stuffing it into a pita, or piling it on some whole grain toast.

  • 1/4 fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 pound crab meat
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and cut into cubes
  • 1 tomatillo, diced
  • 1 head bibb lettuce
  • kosher salt

Shred or cut the lettuce into bite sized pieces.  Combine the lettuce, crab, and avocado in a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, tomatillo, lime zest, and juice until smooth.  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt, additional lime juice, and mayo to taste.

Add the dressing to the crab mixture and carefully combine.  Serve immediately.