Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Spinach season has arrived and my husband and I both love to eat our spinach! It's probably our favorite green. We get large bags of it at the farmers' market and eat it in lots of ways. I enjoy this time of year because so much produce is coming into season. It's a great change to have all these fresh vegetables after a long winter. This pasta dish is pretty simple to make and it's a great way to use up a lot of spinach. Our spinach was really juicy and fresh, so it was beginning to turn the cream sauce a touch green, but that's OK. That's a good sign, right?
Be sure to wash your spinach very well as it tends to be sandy and gritty, which can easily ruin a dish. This recipe will feed about four to six people or make you some nice lunch leftovers for during the week (my favorite).
Chicken florentine pasta
about 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 lb. pasta of your choice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
1-3/4 cups whole milk
6 cups (lightly packed) chopped fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
about 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes)
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Warm about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and cook the chicken until golden on both sides and cooked through. Set aside on a plate.
Cook the pasta until al dente in salted water. Drain. While the pasta cooks, make the sauce.
Using the same skillet, add another tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic. Sautee until fragrant and then stir in the flour. Cook, stirring often, for about 1-2 minutes. Add the oregano and wine. Whisk well to break up any flour lumps and let the wine come to a boil. Continue to cook, whisking often, until the wine reduces by about half and is thickened.
Reduce the heat and slowly stir in the milk. Stir in the spinach. Stir and continue to cook over low heat, lightly whisking often, until the spinach is wilted and the sauce is thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Slice the chicken across the grain into bite-sized pieces. Stir the chicken and Parmesan into the sauce. Gently stir in the cooked pasta. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk.
Serve topped with the tomatoes and extra Parmesan.
What was I cooking one year ago?: roasted strawberry balsamic vinaigrette
Two years ago?: banana and pineapple sage smoothie
Three?: ricotta cheese
Monday, June 10, 2013
I think I've made an amazing discovery with this dish: rhubarb is awesome in savory dishes and is the perfect sour component to an Asian-inspired sauce. Wow. Just wow. This sauce was fantastic. This is yet another recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home. I modified it a bit to make less and to use some ingredients I had on hand. I also discovered that the recipe needed a little tweaking for our tastes to ensure that we didn't end up with a pile of stuck together noodles, which was starting to happen! The flavors in this dish are so good and very intense. I topped it with scallions, radishes, mint, and cilantro - I think that daikon radish, savoy cabbage, and other herbs would also be delicious toppings. I also enlisted the assistance of the slow cooker for this recipe because I didn't want to be using the oven (too hot). Below is my modified recipe that will serve two-three people (or make some really tasty leftovers).
Hot and sour rhubarb pork with noodles
about 1.5 lbs. of boneless pork shoulder or pork roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1-1/2 cups roughly chopped rhubarb
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 jalapeno, roughly chopped (remove seeds for lower heat)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
coconut oil, for frying
1 lb. fresh Asian style noodles (or any long flat noodle)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
cilantro, roughly chopped
mint, thinly sliced
Trim away any excess fat on the pork cubes and place it in a slow cooker. Add the rhubarb through five-spice powder to a food processor and puree until smooth. Stir into the pork. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.
When the pork is tender and cooked, remove it from the slow cooker using a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Leave the lid off the slow cooker and turn it up to high to thicken the rhubarb sauce.
Heat about two tablespoons of coconut oil in a wok or heavy bottom skillet. Add the pork and cook, stirring often, until it is browned and slightly crispy.
In the meantime, cook the noodles in salted boiling water. Fresh noodles will only take a few minutes to cook (it will take longer if you are using dried). When they are al dente, drain, return to the pot, and stir in a couple tablespoons of the rhubarb sauce to keep the noodles from sticking.
Place a couple scoops of noodles on each plate. Top with the pork, scallions, radishes, cilantro, and mint. Serve with extra rhubarb sauce and lime wedges.
What was I cooking one year ago?: strawberry spoonbread with vanilla cream
Two years ago?: potato and Swiss chard hash with eggs
Three?: Thai green curry
Monday, June 3, 2013
Spring time is asparagus time and we just can't get enough of it. I love asparagus - but this is really the only time of year that you can get it fresh and it's a short time. Our favorite place to get asparagus is from Thorpes Organic Family Farm (also our favorite place to get strawberries - I'm in anticipation for those already). We pick up a couple pounds a week and eat it in all different ways while we can. I love simple roasted asparagus as a side dish, but I also love to incorporate it into main dishes and breakfast. Asparagus pairs perfectly with eggs and bacon. So when I was flipping through Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home (still one of my favorite cookbooks ever) and saw his beautiful zucchini carbonara I was inspired to make a similar dish with asparagus. I also picked up some fresh pastured eggs and cream at the farmer's market, some high quality bacon, and used fresh oregano from my herb garden. This dish was truly delicious and decadent. While it may not be classic carbonara, that's OK with me - it was pretty spectacular! This recipe will make a lot of pasta and is best eaten right away - it will serve at least four people. Serve it with some fresh crusty bread to pick up any sauce at the bottom of your bowl.
Penne and asparagus carbonara
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into about 1-inch pieces
3/4 lb. bacon, preferably pastured and nitrate free, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 handfuls freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 large egg yolks (find the freshest and most high quality eggs you can)
1 lb. penne pasta
1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano, plus more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the asparagus with some olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for about 5-7 minutes, flipping them once, until they are fork tender and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Cook the penne in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving about one cup of pasta water. Mix together the cream, egg yolks, one handful of Parmesan, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl using a fork. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp in a large skillet with a bit of olive oil. When it is finished, drain off most of the fat. Add a few grinds of black pepper (you want a bit of a "kick") and the asparagus to the skillet.
Now you have to work quickly and carefully here to make sure your sauce doesn't scramble. Once your pasta is drained, add it to the skillet along with the oregano and toss well. Remove it from the heat and set it on the counter or table. Add a ladle of your cooking water along with the sauce and stir quickly and thoroughly. Stir in the remaining handful of Parmesan. If your sauce is too thick, stir in a bit more cooking water. The sauce should be smooth and glossy.
Eat immediately. Serve topped with extra oregano.
What was I cooking one year ago?: lemony potato and pea salad with mint
Two years ago?: chicken, mango, and cashew stir-fry
Three?: puffed pear pancake with cinnamon-maple syrup
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Rhubarb season is here and we are lucky to have access to a lot of it through our family's gardens. Last year I made this amazing spiced rhubarb cake and these delicious rhubarb bars, but this year I wanted to make a plain old-fashioned rhubarb pie. Not one with strawberries - just rhubarb. I do like the strawberry-rhubarb combination, but strawberries aren't ready yet around here. My husband and I don't eat a lot of sugar and when I bake I almost always cut the sugar down in the recipes. I was pretty generous on the sugar in this one, but if you are used to very sweet desserts, you may want to increase it another 1/4 cup or so. It will also depend on how pungent your rhubarb is. Ours was on the sour side.... my first bite made me regret not adding more sugar, but my second and third did not. I thought it was quite perfect and really made the rhubarb flavor itself shine, rather than try to cover it with sweetness. Plus, it allowed me to add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream without having a sugar overload and it brought the whole dish to a perfect level of sweetness for me. My rhubarb was also very juicy and fresh, so the pie was a bit on the runny side, but that's OK with me.
for the crust:
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ice water
2 teaspoons coarse sugar
for the filling:
7 cups sliced rhubarb (about 1/2-inch pieces)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup unbleached granulated cane sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 heaped tablespoon cornstarch (preferably organic)
Mix the flour and salt together in a medium bowl. Then stir in the olive oil and water until combined. Form into a ball and cut in half (making one half slightly larger than the other). Roll out the larger half onto a lightly floured surface until it will fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Shape it into the pie plate, removing/folding over any overhang. Roll out the remaining dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a sharp knife, cut it into strips (about eight) that are about 1/2-3/4 inch wide.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Toss the rhubarb, lemon juice, sugars, salt and cornstarch in a large bowl. Pour the filling into the pie dish.
Top the filling with the strips of pie dough, weaving them to make a lattice pattern. Pull off any extra dough and pinch the ends into the pie crust.
Lightly beat the egg with a couple teaspoons of water. Brush the egg onto the pie dough strips. Top them with the coarse sugar.
Bake for about 55-60 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden. Let cool before serving. Serve as is or topped with a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
What was I cooking one year ago?: rhubarb bars
Two years ago?: chickpea and eggplant phyllo tarts
Three?: buttermilk pancakes
Friday, May 24, 2013
Making stir-fry is one of my favorite quick weeknight dinners and as the weather warms I find myself making them more and more. The weather here has been surprisingly hot already so I've been spending as little time in the kitchen as possible. For this dish, I wanted to make something like sesame chicken (one of my favorite Chinese take-out dishes), but without deep frying. Plus, I wanted to incorporate some vegetables into the dish, especially some broccoli for my broccoli-loving husband. The results were a lightly and tasty stir-fry full of sesame flavor.
So it's getting close to another summer and we find ourselves still in an apartment. We thought for sure we'd be in a house by now, but life hasn't worked out that way... Apartment living in the summer can be really rough.... especially uppers where it gets extra hot. There's no escape for eating or cooking outside. Luckily, we are able to have a small container garden and we put that in last weekend. We planted a bunch of herbs (sweet basil, Thai basil, chives, tarragon, oregano, lavender, mint, etc.), lettuces, and tomatoes. Hopefully we'll be in a house by the end of the year! It's tough for two outdoorsy people who grew up in a rural area to be without any land.
Sesame chicken and broccoli stir-fry
4 tablespoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili sauce
3 teaspoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted, plus more for garnish
about 1 lb. chicken breast, sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons cornstarch
about 2 cups broccoli florets
3 scallions, sliced on the bias, greens and whites separated
1 small-medium red pepper, thinly sliced
white or Basmati rice, cooked to package directions
Whisk together the sesame oil, tamari/soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, chili sauce, and sesame seeds until well-combined. Taste and adjust if needed to get a good flavor combination. Set aside.
Toss the chicken and cornstarch together to coat. Let sit for about 10 minutes and then dust off extra cornstarch. In the meantime, blanch the broccoli in salted boiling water for about 3-4 minutes - just until it's al dente and bright green. Drain well.
Heat about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a wok or large skillet. When hot, add the chicken. Toss and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the broccoli, scallion whites, and red pepper. Toss and cook, stirring often, until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the sauce, toss well, and cook for another minute until the sauce is hot.
Serve over cooked rice and top with reserved scallion greens and extra sesame seeds.
What was I cooking one year ago?: steamed artichokes with creamy lemon and chive sauce
Two years ago?: eggs, bacon, and asparagus with roasted yellow pepper sauce
Three?: pear-ginger crisp