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 – In A Pickle

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 5/4/09 on Exit 51.

In A Pickle

Lists are a big thing with me.  I make them constantly to remind myself of anything and everything.  It becomes clearer to me with each passing day that I manage to forget more than I remember.  To steal a line from an interview Russell Brand gave to NPR, “I’m an unreliable witness to my own existence.” Fortunately, this condition has not progressed to the point where I make lists of the lists that I need to make.

Canned

Let me say that when I’m making the grocery list, I try very hard to make sure I’ve double checked the recipes I plan to make against the list.  Otherwise, I could find myself in a pickle.  Like yesterday.

After plowing through my latest food memoir, I had made a mental note that I wanted to try the pickled carrot recipe.  I knew were were going to be having people over for a dinner party and I wanted to have those carrots on the menu.  So, without consulting the recipe, I picked up what I thought I remembered as the ingredients.  And then I forgot all about it.

The weekend before the dinner, I was out and about and checking things off other lists.  Laundry, check.  Housework, check.  Yard work…lots of yard work, check, check, check.  After battling the weeds for three hours, I picked up the recipe again.  And I realized that not only did it need a week in the fridge to pickle, but I had only managed to remember about half of the ingredients.  Among the things that I forgot, canning jars.  So what do you do?

You either scrap the recipe or you get yourself to the megamart in a jiffy.  Did you know that canning jars aren’t sold individually?  They aren’t.  So I either need to LOVE this recipe and make it to give to everyone I know, or find uses for the other eleven jars.

Until next Sunday, the jury is still out on the fate of the pickled carrots.  I’m sure I will remember to tell you how it all goes…it’s already on the list.

Molly’s Spicy Pickled Carrots

From A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar, plus more for topping jars
  • 2 cups water, plus more for topping jars
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 6 (5 to 6 inch) sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 pounds small (finger sized) carrots, or standard sized carrots cut into sticks about 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long

Combine 1 1/2 cups vinegar, water, sugar, thyme, garlic, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, salt, and mustard seeds in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove pan from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add remaining 1/2 cup vinegar.

Put carrots in large heatproof bowl, pour warm brine over them. Cool to room temperature.

While the carrots cool, wash two quart sized canning jars and their lids in warm soapy water.

When carrots and brine are cooled, divide carrots evenly between jars, arranging them snugly.  Using your fingers and wide mouth canning jars makes this easier.  Divide the brine evenly between the jars.  The carrots should be completely covered by the brine.  If not, add a mixture of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water to cover.

Seal firmly and refrigerate three days to a week.  The carrots take time to absorb the brine.

Flashback Friday – Public Service Announcement

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 3/29/09 at Exit 51.

Public Service Announcement

This is what can happen when you remember there is an entire Sara Lee pound cake in your freezer, chocolate chips in the cupboard, and a grill press in the drawer:

Pressed

I wonder how this would be with some peanut butter thrown into the mix?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress.

Flashback Friday – Matchmaker

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 4/27/09 at Exit 51.

Matchmaker

Did you know I can see into the future?  Sometimes, I can.  And in your future I see scallops with balsamic glaze.  This will not happen right away.  No, it will take some time.  But I do see you together.

Glazed

How can I possibly know this?  I know because this was a recipe I tested for Cook’s Illustrated.  The final recipe should appear in CI sometime later this year.   Until then, you will just have to take my word that I think the two of you will really hit it off.

I wonder whether the published version will offer suggestions about how to use leftover balsamic reduction?  Because I’ve got a small container of it sitting in my fridge.  So far, the only idea I’ve had is to spoon it over sliced pound cake.  I’m not sure which is the better idea, making more scallops or getting more pound cake.

This seeing the future is tricky business.

Sauced

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 Friday – Peeps Show ’09

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 4/17/09 at Exit 51.

Peeps Show ’09

I like to think I am a good host.  At a minimum, that means that I try not to leave you with incomplete stories.  So by my own definition, I would not be a good host if I didn’t bring you the results of the 2009 Washington Post Peep Diorama Contest.

image from the washington post
image from the washington post

Now that the contest is over, enjoy your Peeps.

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.