Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stuffed Artichokes

Stuffed artichokes are a part of my soul.  We ate them all the time while I was growing and they were always my FAVORITEST THING EVER.  

I have such great memories sitting around the island with my mom, grandma and siblings eating stuffed artichokes.  For some reason, I think my dad wasn't into them.  And maybe my brother wasn't either.  Maybe it is a girl food?  We never ate them as part of a meal.  They were always some random appetizer/snack.  

I am obsessed with food that is a lot of work/takes a long time to eat.  Chicken wings.  Ribs.  Crab legs.  Lobster.  Longans.  Grapefruits.  Pistachios.  And stuffed artichokes.  You sit, pull off the leaves, scrape every last bit off with your teeth, and look for the next loaded leaf.  

This recipe is not my moms.  But it is very close.  Just a little more fancy schmancy.  With the addition of mint (which I left out), anchovies, white wine, crushed red pepper flakes, pines nuts, and lots of lemon.  All you really need to make these are the breadcrumbs and parmesan, anything else is really bonus.  Make sure to cook them until they are really tender.  

BTW, Scot doesn't like food that is a lot work.  Must be a guy thing.  

Stuffed Artichokes
by Anne Burrell via FoodNetwork

2 lemons
4 medium artichokes
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 bunch mint, picked and cut into a chiffonade (I left this out)
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted, optional
3 anchovy fillets, minced, optional
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2 cups white wine

Cook's Note: Before starting this recipe be aware that there is a lot of waste involved in artichokes. It's ok. Just accept it and move on. Squeeze 1 lemon into a large bowl filled with water and place the lemon halves in the water.  (Anne wrote this, she is angry.)

Cut off the pointy tops of the artichokes. Remove and reserve the stem of the artichoke. Peel off the tough green outer leaves and discard.

Gently spread the leaves of the artichoke. Using a melon baller, scoop out the hairy "choke" in the center of the artichokes. When clean reserve them in the lemon water. Remove the tough outer skin on the stems and reserve them in the lemon water as well.

In a small bowl combine the garlic, herbs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, crushed red pepper, pine nuts and anchovies, if using. Finely chop the reserved artichoke stems and add them to the bowl. Zest and juice the remaining lemon and add that to the bowl. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture forms a paste. Season with salt.

Stuff the artichokes with the paste.

Place the artichokes standing up in a saucepan large enough to accommodate them. Add the wine to the saucepan and enough lemon water to come 3/4 up the sides of the artichokes. Add the lemon halves to the pan also. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt.

Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes (I think longer than this is better, 30-45 min.) or until the base of the artichokes are tender when poked with a fork.

Serve hot or room temperature drizzled with generous amount of olive oil.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 45 min., Cook time: 20 min +, Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  6/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New England Fish Chowder

Hey!  Want to buy some baked goods from some awesome bakers?  All for a great cause?  Go on over to Bloggers Bake for Hope and check out what is for sale.  Bake sale opens May 4th.  I am donating a batch of Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies, which are delicious and ship very well.  Check it out!

I was born to eat fish chowder.  I also was born in Iowa.  Not something I typically include on my resume.  I actually hate Iowa.  No I don't.  I don't hold pointless grudges.  Iowa is fine.  Nebraska is just better.  (Born in Iowa, Reborn and raised in Nebraska)

Anyways, there is no reason I should love a fish chowder as much as I do.  But I do.  And this gets better the longer it sits.  Leftovers were certainly better than the original.  I even slightly overcooked the fish and after it all sat and melded and moisturized, all was right again.  

Also, this is not a thick chowder.  Just the way I like it.  Nice and soupy.  

New England Fish Chowder

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 cups clam juice
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay (optional, can use a little paprika and a dash of cayenne)
1 1/2 to 2 lbs cod, or other firm white fish, pin bones removed, fillets cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil and butter in the bottom of a large pot (6-qt) on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, if using, and turn up the heat, cook, uncovered until the wine reduces by half. (If not using wine, add 1/4 cup of water with the clam juice.)

Add the potatoes, clam juice, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper, and Old Bay spice. (The potatoes should be just barely covered with the liquid in the pot. If not, add water so that they are.) Lower the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the potatoes are almost done, about 10-15 minutes.

In a separate pot, heat the cream until steamy (not boiling).

Add the fish to the pot of potatoes and add the heated cream. Return to the stove. Cook on low heat, uncovered, until the fish is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Keep your eye on the heat! If you are using straight heavy cream you should be more easily able to avoid curdling, even if the soup starts to boil. But if you are substituting light cream, half and half, or milk, the mixture will likely curdle if it gets near boiling point (one of the reasons I like using straight heavy cream). Keep the temperature so that it barely gets steamy, but not simmering. When the fish is just cooked through, remove from heat.

Mix in the parsley. The flavors will improve if the soup rests 30 minutes before serving.

Serve with crusty bread or oyster crackers.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 80 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sticky Sticky Buns

Sticky Sticky Buns.  No comma.  

Have you ever tried these?  These are the famous sticky buns from the bakery, Flour, in Boston.  I had the privilege of tasting these babies about a year ago at Flour.  

The real Sticky Buns from the Flour bakery in Boston
I wouldn't label myself as a "sticky bun person".  Or a "caramel roll person".  Or a "pecan roll person".  I mean...who would really?  That would be pretty embarrassing.  No, but seriously...if no one told me to try the sticky buns at Flour, I never would have.  

Bonus points for me.  I did try them.  And they are perfect.  As a die hard caramel lover, these complete me.  

The Goo

What makes them special is that they are made from a rich and decadent Brioche dough.  To make the dough, you need to throw every ounce of trust into your stand mixer.  To be honest, after minute 27 of my mixer chugging along, I doubted its endurance.  I was actually just waiting for it to blow up.  I put on my apron, hoping that would somehow spare my life.  And although the housing motor arm thing was at least 480 degrees.  Celsius.  It survived!  It did it!  So what I am trying to say here is:  you are going to need a stand mixer to pull off this Brioche dough.  And you will also need some patience and 5 eggs.  And just a tiny bit of butter.  

Now, I have to admit that I messed up the recipe.  There have been several corrections to the original printing of the Flour cookbook.  None of which I was aware of until today.  And what a bummer that one of the corrections was to this very (famous) sticky bun recipe.  In the book, it says to use an entire batch of Brioche dough listed on page 73.  Unfortunately, it should say use half the batch.  I used the whole batch.  The recipe below is the correct version.

There are really worse things in life than having monster sticky buns.  Lucky for me, I also used the wrong yeast and I live in Colorado, so I didn't get much rise out of them before baking.  Even with the multiple mistakes (even though they may have cancelled each other out), these were still amazing.  They tasted just like I remember.  Not sure why, but even with twice the dough, these weren't super dense or heavy.  Killer.

Speaking of killer, that is the reason I did not wait to try these again with the right amount of dough and the right yeast.  These are an annual breakfast treat.  But I love them and couldn't wait that long to share them.  But at the same time, I didn't want to risk my slender/tan winter bod.  Ya know what I mean?

These will make you happy.  Share them.  Be a good person.

Sticky Sticky Buns
by Joanne Chang, Flour

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks; 170 grams, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (345 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (110 grams) honey
1/3 cup (80 grams) heavy cream
1/3 cup (80 grams) water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Basic Brioche Dough, (1/2 the recipe below)
1/4 cup (55 grams) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (100 grams) pecan halves, toasted and chopped

To make the goo: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that's ok). Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 2 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche dough into rectangle about 16 by 12 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

Use a bench scraper or a chef's knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.)

Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching-almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F.

Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top.  The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.

(Servings: 8, Prep time: 10 hrs.+, Cook time: 45 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)

Brioche Dough*

2 1/4 cups (315 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce (28 grams) fresh
cake yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (82 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold water
5 eggs
1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks; 310 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

On low speed, add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

Place the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*Note: You will only need half this recipe for Brioche dough for the sticky buns. However, I used the whole batch of dough and they still turned out wonderful.

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  5/5
Dishwashing Effort:  4/5

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Oatmeal-Maple Scones

Lots of people say that you shouldn't humanize your dog.  But I say, it is fine.  My dog basically is a human.  I believe he has deep thoughts.  One example is with food.  There is no doubt in my mind that my dog likes good food.  He doesn't just eat, he tastes and enjoys his food.  

Yes, I know he eats grass.  But to be honest, it is tasty.  I used to eat clovers growing up.  They are salty and herby.  

So, I have been eating a lot of jelly beans lately (for obvious reasons), and I am a Jelly Belly fan.  However, I am anti-buttered popcorn jelly bean flavor.  Why?  Why do you have to put those in my bag of assorted jelly beans?  I eat by the handful (still one at a time tho, I am no glutton) and every once in awhile, I don't investigate my batch before chowing.  When I accidentally put one of those buttered popcorn jelly beans in my mouth, I regret my entire life's worth.  I cannot shallow those things.  

Anyways, my point is that I give them to my dog.  And he loves them.  He doesn't just shallow them.  He chews them, tastes them, savors them.  And Scot says it is because dogs taste things to make sure they aren't poisonous.  Lies.  If that was true, he would never know if bacon was poisonous.  Because he pretty much inhales that stuff.  We all have weaknesses.  

For the record, I also hate the chocolate jelly beans.  But I just give those to Scot.  

One flavor that Scot and I may love equally is maple.  Syrup.  And I knew these would be a hit with him because they also have oatmeal, golden raisins and pecans in them.  A very hearty and rustic scone.  Like the Honey-Cinnamon Ice Cream I made from the Flour cookbook, which was sweetened completely with honey, these scones are sweetened only with maple syrup.  And I have the good stuff, straight from New York.  Personally, I am not a huge fan of powdered sugar glazes.  I have a problem that I can't get over, where I can taste the powdered sugar from which it is made.  I don't know how else to explain it.  It just bothers me.  And I think these glazes are too sweet.  Sorry to bother you with my personal issues.  I know Scot likes them, so I did give this maple glaze a try.  Scot is one of those, "Is there is sugar in syrup?" types of people, if you know what I mean.  It was fine with the glaze, but I probably would prefer the scones without it.  

Oatmeal-Maple Scones
by Joanne Chang, Flour

1 1/4 cups (210 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (125 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (50 g) pecan halves, toasted then chopped
1/2 cup (80 g) golden raisins
1/2 cup (1 stick 114 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8-10 pieces
1/2 cup (80 g) cold heavy cream
1/2 cup (160 g) maple syrup
1 cold egg

1 cup (140 g) confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons water

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350F.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or handheld mixer), mix together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pecans, and raisins on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the butter is somewhat broken down and grape-size pieces are still visible.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, maple syrup, and egg. On low speed pour the cream mixture into the flour mixture and beat for 10-30 seconds, or just until the dough comes together. It will be fairly wet.

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. With a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure that all of the dry ingredients are mixed into the dough. Using a 1/3-cup dry-measuring cup, drop mounded scoops of the dough onto a baking sheet, forming 8 scones and spacing them 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.

To make the glaze, mix the ingredients together, using enough of the water to make a smooth, pourable glaze. Pour over the cooled scones and serve.

(Servings: 8, Prep time: 30 min., Bake time: 40 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:  

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Monday, April 18, 2011

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin

The results are in for the Whole Foods Foodie Fantasy Video Contest.  Congrats to Jodi from Tasty Touring for winning!  I randomly selected five winners for the goodie baskets and have already contacted them.  Congrats to G. Shell, Gigi, Donna, Alisa and Hezbon!!!  Thanks again for all your voting!

What a perfect spring side dish!  Yeah, it is a little late for sweet potatoes.  But Scot loves sweet potatoes and dark greens and cheese, I just needed to make this for him.  He really enjoyed it.  It isn't the easiest dish to throw together with all the Swiss chard hoopla, but it is tasty and can be prepped ahead of time.  I have mentioned (more than once) that I like savory sweet potatoes, not sweetened sweet potatoes.  This is my kind of sweet potato dish!

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin

1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 pounds Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and both cut into 1-inch pieces
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 pounds medium red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into 1/8-
inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyére cheese

Prep greens: Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add chard stems, pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add chard leaves by large handfuls, stirring, until all greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper then transfer greens to a colander to drain well and press out liquid with back of a large spoon.

Make sauce: Combine cream or milk and garlic in small saucepan; bring to simmer; keep warm. Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, whisking, one minute, then slowly whisk in warm cream/milk and boil, whisking, one minute. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Assemble gratin: Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter deep 9—13 baking dish. Spread half of sweet potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and a 1/4 cup of the cheese. Distribute half of the greens mixture over the cheese, then sprinkle salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and 1/4 cup of the cheese over it. Pour half of béchamel sauce over the first two layers then continue with the remaining sweet potatoes, more salt, pepper, herbs and cheese and then the remaining greens, salt, pepper and herbs. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the gratin, pressing the vegetables slightly to ensure that they are as submerged as possible. Sprinkle with the last 1/4 cup of cheese.

Bake gratin for about 1 hour until golden and bubbly, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Do ahead: You can make the entire gratin but not bake it up to a day in advance and keep it in the fridge. You can also make and bake the gratin and reheat it. Gratins reheat well, but they take almost as much time to gently heat through as they do to bake in the first place, especially deep ones like this. As for reheating, already baked and frozen, I will find out very soon! But I am near-positive it will be fine.

(Servings: 8, Prep time: 1 hour, Cook time: 1 hour, Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  4/5
Dishwashing Effort:  4/5

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pineapple Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

The salad is the most interesting combo in the universe.  When I read Joy's post about this salad she came up with, I couldn't wait to try it.  It is shaved (raw) Brussels sprouts with chunks of fresh pineapple, avocado, roasted macadamia nuts and French lentils and a pineapple poppy seed vinaigrette.  Fascinating.  Genius.  

Let me just give a little of my experience with the different components.  

Raw Brussels sprouts are good.  The closer you get to the core, the more bitter they taste.  But the bitterness is nice with the other parts of the salad.  Also, 8 cups?  Yikes, that is like a million.  I just got a regular amount.  

Pineapple.  It was actually on sale for me at my Whole Foods.  Even though I claim to be the best produce-picker-outer (including pineapples), the one I picked was pretty horrible.  However, it tasted great in the salad and still made a delicious dressing.  Who knew?

French Lentils.  Fancy lentils.  They are a pretty color.  But they taste the same to me.  Maybe they taste more muddy.  But in a good way.  Hard to explain.

Macadamia nuts.  Are AMAZING!  

As you can see, I did more of a lentil salad with shaved Brussels sprouts, pineapple, avocado and macadamia nuts on top.  This is mostly because I couldn't afford 8 cups of shaved Brussels sprouts.  But I liked the proportions.  Joy's proportions also look delicious.  Also, this dressing is a real winner.  And I am not usually a fan of sweet dressings.  

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pineapple Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

8 cups raw Brussels sprouts ribbons (lay sprouts on their sides and sliced thin, creating green ribbons)
1/2 cup scallions, sliced from the white to the green
1/4 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks, sliced bite size
1 cup French Lentils, cooked
1 cup raw macadamia nuts, roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper
1 cup avocado chunks

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Toss raw macadamia nuts in 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper and roast for 12 to 14 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Simmer one cup of French lentils in 3 cups of water. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, until just cooked through. Drain completely, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and set aside to cool completely.

Slice pineapple into bite size chunks.

Prepare salad dressing.

Slice avocado.

Just before serving the salad, toss together Brussels sprouts, scallions, parsley, pineapple, lentils, macadamia nuts and avocado chunks. Drizzle in dressing and toss well. Serve immediately.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 1 hr., Difficulty: Easy)

Pineapple Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoons chopped scallions (the white portion)
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Place fresh pineapple chunks in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend pineapple into a mostly smooth, frothy pulp. Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl and press the pineapple puree through the strainer into the bowl. Scrape the bottom of the fine mesh strainer to get all the good bits. There will be just a bit of pineapple pulp in the fine mesh strainer when you’re done. You’ll have about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of juice/pulp.

In the the bowl of the food processor, combine juice/pump, honey, rice wine vinegar, scallions, garlic, and mustard. Pulse 5 times to incorporate. With the food processor on, slowly stream in the canola oil. Stop the food processor once the dressing is emulsified. Pour the dressing into a medium bowl and stir in poppy seeds, salt and pepper.

Salad dressing should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

(Makes 2 cups)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pad Thai

Go again and again.  I won't mind.  :)

This is my second time posting a Pad Thai recipe up in here.  But the thing is, the first one isn't that real.  I mean, it is good...but it is the kind of Pad Thai recipe that involves no special ingredients.  Which is nice.  Recipes like that have their place.  But, I have been searching for a more authentic Pad Thai recipe.  I have experimented quite a bit since then.  And I have finally come to a conclusion!

I thought I would give you a little tour of the ingredients.  I love going to the Asian Market in Boulder.  So, I don't mind the hassle of finding weird Asian ingredients like salted/pickled turnips.

However, my first experience buying them was...scary.  I always look around the hardly organized store to try to find stuff myself.  Almost every time, I end up asking the lady in charge where things are.  When I asked her for the turnips, she took me to the end aisle (the dark one), got down to the bottom shelf and started digging through these bags of random pickled veggies.  After trying to convince me that the "radishes" were the same as the "turnips", I somehow found the bag of salted turnips.  It was coated in some sticky substance.  Mangled.  Pretty sketchy.  But I can't be afraid.  I buy and use and go on with my life.

Upon bringing the bag home, thoroughly disinfecting the outside of the bag, I look at little closer at the bag only to find that the English on the bag hardly qualifies as English.  "Serving Instruction:  It's with fish or meat togeher boil or fried. It's the optimum delicius toop." Hmmm.  There are even errors in the Nutrition Facts.

I used them.  But something was wrong.  They tasted similar to what I would imagine a finger would taste like.  Raw.  Human Finger.

So, what did I do?  I went back and got another bag (different brand) and tried again.  The second bag (the first one pictured) was 1000% times better.  Still their presence in my Pad Thai wasn't anything to write home to mom about.  But, they add a nice salty interesting something something.  Definitely optional.

The next Asian ingredient is Palm sugar.  I liked it and it was fun to use.  I am sure I would not be able to tell the difference between Palm sugar and brown sugar.  But is a nice alternative to your regular old sugar.  Recommended but not mandatory.

Lastly, you'll need these three more common ingredients.  The rice noodles you can definitely find at a regular grocery store.  The fish sauce probably too.  The tamarind concentrate will probably call for a trip to the Asian market.  And all are absolutely necessary.

The rest of the ingredients are pretty normal.  Eggs, limes, cilantro, green onions, bean sprouts, garlic, chile powder, peanuts and shrimp.

The trick to making good Pad Thai is to prep everything and then make in small batches (1-2 servings).  Don't overcook the rice noodles before stir-frying them.  They can still have quite a bite to them before you throw them in the wok.  Personally, I like less fish sauce than what many recipes call for.  And I am not even scared of the stank of fish sauce, I just like the balance better with less.  I also like a spicy Pad Thai.  My chile powder currently is weak.  Weak!  I added two whole tablespoons and I could feed the resulting Pad Thai to an infant.  But all chile powders are different.  And finally, I love lots of cilantro and lime.  Not sure how authentic cilantro is, but I love it.  

Pad Thai
adapted from use real butter

vegetable oil (for frying)
12 oz. chicken (2 oz. per serving)
4 cloves minced garlic (about 1/2+ clove per serving)
sauce (see below) (about 1/4 cup per serving)
1 lb. rice noodles, soaked in warm water to soften (but not too soft)
6 eggs (1 egg per serving)
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (4-6 shrimp per serving)
1 cup ground peanuts (1-2 tbsps per serving)
3-4 cups bean sprouts (1/2 cup per serving)
1/2 cup pickled turnips, chopped (optional, 1+ tbsp per serving)
1 cup garlic chives or green onions, chopped (2 tbsps per serving)
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
more sprouts (garnish)
more cilantro (garnish)
fresh limes (garnish)

1/2 cup tamarind paste
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup palm sugar (I used 4 pods)
1 tbsp chili powder (to taste)

Make the sauce: Over a low flame, heat the tamarind, fish sauce, and palm sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the chili powder a teaspoon at a time to desired spiciness. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Turn off the heat (keep sauce warm).

Make the pad thai: [The key is to cook up 1-2 servings at a time!] Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add 2 ounces of chicken and stir-fry until it is half cooked. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sauce, and a pinch of garlic. Stir around and add about 2 cups of loosely packed (for me, a big handful) of rice noodles plus 1/4 cup of sauce to the pan and stir vigorously until the noodles soften. If it dries out, you can add some water. Push the noodles to the side and crack an egg into the pan. Let the egg cook for 10 seconds and then toss the noodles and egg together in the pan. Drop 4-6 shrimp, a couple of tablespoons of ground peanuts, a heaping tablespoon of turnip, and 1/2 cup of sprouts into the pan. Stir fry until the shrimp are just cooked (very fast – about a minute). Toss in the green onions or garlic chives and cilantro and remove from heat. Serve hot with more sprouts, ground peanuts, cilantro and lime wedges for garnish.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 45 min., Cook time: 15 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beef Congee (Rice Porridge)

Thank you for all your votes!  Forever and always.  If you can, please keep voting.  Every 24 hours.  Until Friday.  It is a lot to ask, I know.  But I love ya for it.  Let me know when you vote and you could win some cookies.  

I have been wanting to make congee for forever.  For forevs.  I have had it in various strange situations, including on a camping trip.  A few summers ago, I went on this canoeing trip to the boundary waters in Northern MN.  It was actually my friends "hikelorette".  She wanted a wilderness experience before her HUGE Vietnamese wedding that summer.  The girls on the trip had varied levels of experience with camping.  Some had never even car camped.  Some were more experienced backpackers.  

Too soupy, but still delicious
We went during bug season.  And when I say bug season, it doesn't mean like you may want to bring along some bug spray.  It means you need full body protection, a bug net mask/hat, and Deet.  There were swarms of bugs flying around your personal bubble at all times.  Especially your face.  

One of my favorite parts of the trip was all the delicious food we had.  With all the Asian influence on the trip, we had a lot of Asian food, including congee.  It was the first time I had it and they made it very clear that the texture of our backpacking version was not correct.  That is why I love the Asian cultures.  They know their food.  They respect it.  It is just a big part of their lives.  

I chose to make this beef version of congee.  It was extremely amazing.  And I loved everything about it.  Even though it does have some Asian flavors, it actually felt like a comfort food for me.  I think it is ground beef and the starchiness from the rice that reminds me of the meals I grew up eating like meatloaf, beef stroganoff, swedish meatballs, etc.  But this is also extremely easy to make.  I guess it is more of a breakfast or lunch type dish.  However, it is great for dinner but definitely needs something else and probably a veggie (no veggies, ahhh!).  It is often made without meat and then there is some yummy meat served on the side.  

Let me discuss some of the Asian ingredients that you will (not) need to get at your favorite Asian grocer.  First, there is this crazy "Thousand Year Egg".  I pretend like I am an adventurous eater and I usually will try anything.  However, this is some egg that has been preserved in clay, ash, salt and lime for weeks to months.  Hmm.  I'll pass on that one.  The second, is the dried shrimp, which I have wanted to try for a while.  So, I did get some.  They are actually in the frozen section of the Asian Market.  They are also kind of disgusting.  Definitely edible.  And I did include them in my congee.  But I don't see the point of them, so I would skip them too.  This means that all the ingredients are very easy to find!  Last note, for me, it was a little soupy day one of making it.  But after it sat and was reheated for leftovers, it was the perfect texture.  But I liked both.  I wonder if I rinsed my rice too many times?  

Not worth it.
Beef Congee (Rice Porridge)

1 cup raw rice
1/2 lb ground beef (marinated in 1 tbl soy sauce, 1 tbl cornstarch, 1/2 tsp Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbl dried shrimp (optional)
10 c water or stock
1 1/2 tbl soy sauce + ground pepper to taste
Toppings: minced scallions, cilantro, deep fried wonton skins, shredded ginger or Thousand Year Egg (optional of course)

Wash rice, drain and repeat 3 more times until the water runs clear. Marinate the beef for 10 minutes. Soak dried shrimp in 1/2 c hot water and drain.

Heat large stockpot over med-high heat with 2T cooking oil. When hot, add ground beef, dried shrimp and garlic. Fry until ground beef is browned. Add the stock or water, soy sauce and rice. Turn heat to high. When boiling, immediately turn heat to low. (If you want Thousand Year Egg – add it now) Simmer 40 min. Taste and adjust with more soy and pepper if needed.

(Servings: 5-6, Prep time: 15 min., Cook time: 40 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:  

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  1/5
Dishwashing Effort:  1/5

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lemony Kale and Quinoa with a Poached Egg

Remember:  If you can, vote again for my video in the Whole Foods Foodie Fantasy Video Contest.  It only takes a second to vote and the video is only a minute long.  You can win a fantastic prize.  Heck, I'll even throw in a high five.  

So.  I have been running.  I am your typical runner.  Wearing fancy running shoes with one of those arm band things jammin' to my favorite "pump it up" playlist.  Keeping an eye on my pace using my sporty wrist watch.  Jogging at the intersections.  Probably toe running.  Heck, I even do the barefoot thing.  

Yah...not at all actually.

Have you ever watched a class of middle schoolers "run the mile" during PE class?  That is me.  The kind of running that always looks like the runner is just about to slow down to walking speed, but hasn't quite made the commitment.  To avoid looking like a complete fool in this fitness mecca of the world known as Boulder, I have lots of strategies.  First, I always have my dog with me so I pretend he is the one who forced me to stop or slow down.  If that isn't an option (for example if he is pulling me), I check my non-existent watch and verify my non-existent pace.  Is my shoe tied?  Ehhh...looks a little loose, I better fix it.  Oooh, I am feeling tight, I better stop and stretch (note: stretch quads and calves, much more believable than triceps and biceps).  

In summary, I get my fitness on.  And that is all that really matters.  And my dog loves me.  Even though I think he makes it pretty clear on our runs that he has doubts about it being called a "run".  

Well, enough about running, what about this dish?  I was inspired to make this after seeing a Lemony Parmesan Dressing in one of Melissa Clark's recipe for a Lemony Kale Pasta.  I decided to use the dressing to flavor up some sauteed kale and quinoa.  Top with a poached egg and goat cheese and I am pretty happy.  

Lemony Kale and Quinoa with a Poached Egg

1 cup quinoa
1 tbsp of olive oil
2 bunches of kale, washed, stems removed and coarsely chopped
Lemon Parmesan Dressing (recipe below)
4-8 eggs
2-4 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled (optional)

Prepare pot for poaching eggs: In a large deep skillet or pot, fill with at least 3 inches of water, cover, put over high heat and bring to a boil.

Prepare quinoa: Add 2 cups water and the quinoa to a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until quinoa is tender (about 15 minutes).

Sauté kale: Preheat a skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add kale in batches until it is all cooked down and tender. Cover and keep warm. Once the kale and quinoa are cooked, dress each separately with the Lemon Parmesan Dressing, to taste. You may not need all the dressing.

Right before serving, poach the eggs: Immediately after the poaching water has come to a boil, reduce heat so that it is no longer boiling. Crack each egg first into a small bowl or cup. Lower small dish with egg very close to the water and slowly
pour into the water (putting circular biscuit cutters in the bottom of the pan and dumping the egg directly over/into the cutter will help keep the whites together), cover, turn of heat, and let sit for 4 minutes. You can remove the eggs after this
point and keep them in a bowl of room temperature or colder water until you are ready to use them.

To serve: Place a ring of sautéed kale in the bottom of a bowl. Place a mound of quinoa in the center. Top with 1 or 2 poached eggs and sprinkle over top with crumbled goat cheese.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 40 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Lemon Parmesan Dressing
from In The Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark via Annie’s Eats

2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
5-6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mince the garlic cloves. Sprinkle the minced garlic with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt and smash the garlic into a paste with a fork or the side of a chef’s knife. Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl. Add in the Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Whisk together until well combined.

(Servings: 1+ cup)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5