Flashback Friday – Notes on a Recipe, Orzo Salad

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 5/6/09 at Exit 51.

Notes On A Recipe – Orzo Salad

Today’s recipe comes to you from the pages of Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh. I was still grousing about the feta cheese that was sacrificed in the name of their Garlicky Beans with Feta, but I decided to move on to the next dish I had tagged.  I really don’t know that I can ever forgive them for that one.

ttar_orzo_02_h_launch

After making their Orzo with Tomatoes, Feta, and Green Onion, I really wish I had found this back in the days before our South Beach adventure.  Because it’s that good.  It’s also that easy.  And it does not cause any regrets when it comes to its usage of the feta.

So maybe, just maybe, I can pretend like that whole Garlicky Bean thing never happened after all.

Orzo with Tomatoes, Feta, and Green Onion

Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh

This dish would be great for a potluck or a light summer meal.  Although, you may want to scale it down if you’re not feeding a crowd. A pound of orzo is still a lot of pasta.  If you do make the entire pound, be sure you use a bowl big enough so that you can mix and stir without shooting orzo all over your kitchen.  It took me a few tries to get it right.  Feel free to tweak the vinaigrette recipe to your liking.  I like mine more tangy so I used less olive oil than called for, and added more lemon juice and honey.

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound orzo
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 7 ounces feta cheese, cubed
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup green onion, chopped

Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in a small bowl.  Gradually whisk in oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Boil broth in a large saucepan.  Stir in orzo, reduce heat to medium, and boil until just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally.  Drain.  Transfer orzo to large, wide bowl, tossing frequently to cool.

Mix tomatoes, basil, green onion into cooled orzo.  Add vinaigrette; toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve at room temperature.

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 – Bon Appetit

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 4/8/09 at Exit 51.

Bon Appetit

You knew it was too good to last right?  I mean my recent downsizing of the cookbooks.  It started innocently enough with the new Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.  But since I won that, does it really count?  And then there was Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh.

ba_fasteasyfresh

I blame Molly of Orangette for this one.  If I hadn’t been so fired up to get her book, A Homemade Life, I would have never walked into the bookstore.  If I had never walked into the bookstore, I would not have come face to face with 700 pages of recipes.   If I had never come face to face with 700 pages of recipes, it would not be sitting on the dining room table right now.

I’m hopeful that some of these recipes will become old friends.  And I’m pretty sure there will be others that will never be invited back to the table.  How long do you think it will take to get through 700 pages of recipes?  I may never need to buy another cookbook again.  Right, who am I trying to kid?

And when the cookbook is not in use, it makes a lovely place for the cat to rest, don’t you think?

shadow-reading

Rushed

Mustard Roasted Shrimp

The following originally appeared on 5/27/09 at Exit 51.

Rushed

Despite my best efforts to the contrary, there are just days when time is not on my side.  I’ve got too much to do and not enough time to get it done.  Or cosmic forces conspire against me and suck huge chunks of time out of my grasping hands, never to be seen again.  A trip to the grocery store that should take 30 minutes turns into an hour.  Too bad life doesn’t come with rollover minutes, like in the AT&T commercial.  I’d definitely pay for that upgrade.

The problem with poor time management is that something ultimately suffers.  You cut corners, trying to wedge a square peg into a round hole, and the end result isn’t exactly the right fit.  It will do in a pinch but you know you could do better.  That’s how I feel about Mustard Roasted Shrimp.

The clock was already ticking when I set out to make the shrimp.  Dinner had to be done and I had to be out the door in little more than an hour.  So the notion of marinating the shrimp in mustard, olive oil, and tarragon for an hour in the fridge was immediately dismissed.  And soaking bamboo skewers so that the shrimp could be  broiled?  That would have to wait for another day.  These need to be in the oven NOW.

Did you ever notice that when you’re trying to hurry, even the simplest tasks get complicated?  Like peeling shrimp.  Sure, the package says EZ Peel but should it really take twenty minutes to peel two pounds of large shrimp?  In tv land there would be an assistant to instantly transform them into peeled and cleaned morsels.  In my kitchen, there’s just the cat sitting there looking mildly interested in me dropping one of those morsels on the floor.

By now, my hour is down to about 40 minutes.  Sorry shrimp but the best I can offer you at this point is a short stay in the marinade out on the counter.  The oven gets heated, sheet pans get prepped, and the timer ticks down to less than 30 minutes.

Finally, the shrimp go in the oven.  At this point, I stop looking at the clock.  It will take as long as it takes and since my superpower to stop time has yet to develop, clock watching isn’t going to do me any good.  As soon as I start to smell the aroma of hot mustard, it’s time to turn the shrimp over.  Tick-tock, tick-tock, I can’t turn the clock in my head off.

At last the shrimp is bright pink and the mustard marinade is just starting to brown on the sheet pans; time to come out of the oven.  Sprinkle a quick pinch of salt and onto the plate we go.  In the five minutes or so that I have to actually eat, I keep thinking how this is ok but it could be so much better.  Each bite mocks me with flat flavor.  Even the next day, the leftovers lay there on the plate, not living up to their full potential because of me.

I take full responsibility.  I rushed what could have been a very good thing.

Broiled Shrimp with Mustard and Tarragon

Adapted from Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh

  • 1/3 cup dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 8 wood skewers, soaked for 30 minutes

Whisk first four ingredients in a medium bowl to combine.  Add shrimp; toss to coat.  Chill 1 to 3 hours.

Heat broiler and line sheet pan with foil.  Thread shrimp onto skewers.  Season with salt and pepper.

Broil shrimp until cooked through, approximately 2 minutes per side.

BAH Note: I’m including the comments from the original post as well.

on 2 June 2009 at 6:13 pm missmobtown said:
I blame Bon Appetit — labeling something as “fast, easy, fresh” when it needs to sit for an hour? Or three? Come ON.

on 3 June 2009 at 7:04 am pmf1852 said:
Indeed, not the quickest meal in the book. We made it again last weekend. Oddly enough, letting it sit longer really didn’t make it taste much different. I think the key is to definitely cook it with high heat. I may have to get over my fear of the broiler and see if that turns up the flavor.

on 27 July 2009 at 8:28 pm Lara said:
Ok, I tried this tonight and both my husband and I thought it was very good but the flavor almost overpowering. Next time I will use less mustard and perhaps half of the marinade recipe. A good make ahead and a great little appy!

on 28 July 2009 at 6:59 am Wendi said:
Would you say it’s a happy appy? Definitely play around with the ingredients to get the taste you like best.

You’ve Been Warned

Turkey Noodle Soup

On those days when I don’t have it together enough to make homemade chicken noodle soup, Bon Appetit – Fast, Easy, Fresh has me covered.  Assuming that I put chicken broth, turkey breast, and rice noodles on my shopping list, I can have soup in under 30 minutes.  Don’t believe me?  Try it yourself and see.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Once you realize how easy this is to make, you just might find yourself regularly putting the ingredients on your grocery list.  Because who doesn’t love a super quick meal that tastes like it took all day to make?  Better yet, make a double batch and freeze half for later.  In cramped freezers like mine, portion it out into quart sized freezer bags for easy freezing and thawing.  They store much better than plastic containers.

Asian Turkey Noodle Soup

Adapted from Bon Appetit – Fast, Easy, Fresh

BAH Note:  I take the easy way out with the turkey breast and get it at the deli counter.  The person helping me usually gets a puzzled look when I ask to have a slice of turkey breast that’s about an inch to an inch and a half thick.  But it works perfectly.  You could roast a turkey breast at home or maybe even find one prepared in the rotisserie section of the grocery store.  But don’t be afraid to ask for it at the deli counter.

  • 3 1/2 ounces medium wide rice noodles, broken in half
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly into about 8 rounds
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 cups diced turkey breast (about 8 to 10 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon dried chives
  • 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger (not sugar coated), minced

Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions.  Rinse, run under cold water to cool, and set aside.

Combine broth, shallots, fresh ginger, and fish sauce in a large sauce pan or dutch oven.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove ginger slices from the broth, add diced turkey, noodles, dried chives, and crystallized ginger and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add a pinch of kosher salt, or additional fish sauce,  if desired.

Enjoy plain or top with bean sprouts, a squirt of lime, or thinly sliced chiles for more heat.

{printable recipe}

Quick Quesedillas

Quick Quesedilla
I served these quesedillas with the Curried Butternut Squash Soup for an easy weekend supper.  But both recipes made enough so that we had a quick weeknight dinner all ready to go.  If quesedillas aren’t your thing, the steak can be served on top of a salad, which is another way we got rid of the leftovers.  And I can neither confirm nor deny that I ate a slice or two of cooked steak straight out of the refrigerator.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence of any such activities. Continue reading “Quick Quesedillas”